Media Coverage

Crisis Walk-In Center in Montrose

KJCT8 News: Mental health crisis walk-in center open in Montrose

By | Media Coverage, News

September 17, 2019 — After Rocky Mountain Health Plans took over the contract for crisis services statewide, with that came the closure of the 24 hour walk-in center at Mind Springs.

Now, there’s a new one in Montrose.

The new Crisis Walk-In Center will offer things like a 24-hour detox facility, and staffed mental health professionals to help anyone going through a mental crisis.

The new place has 11 beds and is the only facility of its kind between Denver and Salt Lake.

Staff at the center say they hope to take some demand off of hospital emergency rooms.

“I think that the ER’s are overrun with so many substance abuse issues going on right now, that if we can take some of those people and get them into our detox and give them the services that they need, you could definitely see a decrease in hospital admissions because of that,” said Director of Nursing and Emergency Services, Heather Thompson.

Crisis services will be available 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.

Courtesy of KJCT8 News | Back to Press Room

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Gunnison Country Times | September 12, 2019

Media Coverage: Trek For Life to aid those who can’t afford mental health treatment

By | Media Coverage, News

Making care available to all

September 12, 2019 — Out of tragedy, a passion for helping others often is born.

Such is the case for the suicide prevention efforts of Crested Butte part-time resident Paul Uhl. Uhl lost his son, Kyle, to suicide less than a year ago. Kyle took his life in October 2018. He was only 27 years old.

But out of his pain, Uhl took action. He began to raise awareness of the problem in resort communities — and assist with fundraising — which helped lead to the opening of a mental health clinic in Crested Butte.

“People ask me, how can you find the strength after such a tragedy?” said Uhl. “I don’t know that I have the answer. It started with being curious about why people commit suicide. I began to learn about various risk factors… It energized me. This didn’t have to happen.”

But soon afterward, Uhl realized tackling suicide and implementing prevention strategies involved more than just opening a clinic. He wanted to make sure that those who are struggling the most have access to services.

Recognizing financial limitations of many community members, Uhl set out to continue the fundraising effort. This coming Saturday, Sept. 14, his idea to help others will take the next step — literally.

Uhl has planned and launched two events — Trek for Life and the Center for Mental Health fundraiser which follows.

A memorial hike will be held Saturday for those lost to suicide from the Maroon-Snowmass trailhead at Maroon Lake to the Schofield Park trailhead north of Crested Butte. The 10-mile hike will begin at 6:30 a.m., and once hikers reach Schofield, they can either bike, hike or drive the remaining 11.5 miles to the Elevation Hotel and Spa at the base of Mt. Crested Butte.

Elevate Bike Rentals will provide bikes at the trailhead.

Then, a Celebration of Life fundraiser will be held Saturday evening at the Elevation.

A buffet dinner will be served, along with live music by Crawford-based band Clifton Hanger and a live auction featuring Helly Hanson products and other items donated by area merchants.

Kimberly Behounek, Center for Mental Health’s regional director for Gunnison and Hinsdale counties, said her organization is humbled by Uhl’s efforts.

“The need for dollars to pay for treatment is real,” said Behounek. “We experience daily community members saying they want services but can not afford them. We are extremely grateful that Paul has identified the Center for Mental Health Crested Butte clinic as the recipient.”

Uhl said he’s not satisfied with just launching the inaugural event. He plans to make adjustments in the future as the fundraiser continues — and elevate education and outreach to prevent further suicides.

“Addressing risk factors to reduce suicides — that’s my motivation,” said Uhl. “Knowing the risk factors, we can prevent this. We’re already brainstorming about how to engage the community and have broader appeal. Let’s throw the 900-pound gorilla out on Elk Avenue.”

Gunnison Country Times
Chris Rourke is a Times staff writer and can be contacted at 970-641-1414 or
Gunnison Country Times | September 12, 2019
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Attendees mingle before the STAT community presentation at the Montrose County Event Center on Thursday. (Emily Ayers, Montrose Daily Press)

Community orgs partner for school threat assessment

By | Media Coverage, News

September 13, 2019 — If addressing potential threats in schools seems daunting, there is now a standardized process for threat assessment that takes a community-oriented approach to helping students.

The Montrose County School District RE1-J, Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, The Center for Mental Health and the Montrose Police Department partnered to bring a presentation of the Salem-Keizer System of Assessing Student Threats to the community Thursday at the Montrose County Event Center.

“The program places an emphasis on whole family health,” said Laura Byard, regional director for The Center for Mental Health, in a release from Montrose County. “Ongoing assessments will help families and students engage with services, break down barriers and foster a collaborative effort for success.”

The program began with the creation of a Student Threat Assessment Team (STAT) consisting of professionals committed to finding a path to success for at-risk students.

The program was presented by John Van Dreal, a school psychologist and director of security, safety, and risk management for the Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon. Van Dreal covered the program background, basic principles and walked attendees through an example threat assessment case with audience questions at the end.

School District Director of Safety and Security James Pavlich opened the presentation saying that it had been a successful week for the participating organizations in Montrose.

“For the last four days we have trained 140 people,” said Pavlich. “They trained on Level I and Level II threat assessment tactics. We are excited about how we can support youth and families in our community.”

The training taught team members how to present an investigation to STAT. It starts from the ground up with team members on the district level alerting the STAT team if any behavioral issues arise. The next step is to gather information for the case and to establish a plan to get at-risk students on track for success.

Van Dreal emphasized that early prevention is at the core of the program. He said that the goal is to stop a students’ trajectory and to turn them around.

“We don’t profile potential [at-risk students],” said Van Dreal. “We look at what level of behavior and activity they are exhibiting and then determine interventions that are designed to address the concern.”

During that assessment process, Van Dreal said that teams will often pull resources from community experts and agencies that serve the youth in the community. He said this provides more perspectives when handling different cases. A diverse skill set and perspective is one of the reasons why the police department is part of the planning process as well.

“Police are natural investigators, and can help share that responsibility,” said Van Dreal. “There is safety in numbers and a balancing of moods and skill sets [when working together]. It’s not just one person making a decision.”

In a release from Montrose County, Cmdr. Matt Smith of the Montrose Police Department said that, “The most exciting aspects of this model for law enforcement are the front-end management of potential risks, and the supervision of those cases subsequent to their discovery. [The system] seeks to foster collaboration between community stakeholders, which is often lacking when addressing threats in our community.”

Another basic principle of the model is the type of language used by professionals and the public surrounding at-risk students.

“We want to use careful language when we refer to youth,” said Van Dreal. “Instead of labeling someone as a ‘violent student’ we need to change that so we are describing the child’s behavior. Instead we could say: he is in a situation that poses a risk for violence.”

To support more careful language, the threat assessment system looks at an aggression continuum by Eric Johnson, Ph.D. The continuum helps professionals determine whether an aggression is reactive or targeted. Threat assessment specifically serves to prevent targeted acts of aggression.

“Most of the interactions happening at a school level are reactive forms of aggression,” said Van Dreal. He explained this as children reacting to being told to do homework or go to detention.

“You have to look at the context of a situation and analyze the facts to determine whether someone plans on attacking,” said Van Dreal. “[Ask yourself] does the behavior meet the threat?”

Van Dreal used an example of a cat being backed into a corner. The cat will claw and hiss and bite because it feels threatened. Similarly, if a youth feels backed into a corner they will react. They will threaten, and they will say aggressive things out of anger. He said that it’s the STATS job to ask the question “does this person ‘pose’ a threat,” not “did the person ‘make’ a threat.”

One of the management strategies that Van Dreal presented is to increase the number of inhibitors present in a youth’s life. He said inhibitors are aspects of life such as employment, finances, health, or looking to the future.

“Often times these children don’t have these inhibitors or those things that make their lives meaningful,” said Van Dreal. “Our job is to put those inhibitors back into their life to nudge them on the right path.”

Van Dreal said that simply asking kids, “how can I help you with that,” makes a huge impact. He said most at-risk youth are missing a pro-social connection in their life that would make all the difference.

Van Dreal ended his presentation by reaffirming the importance of looking at the whole student and not vilifying them.

This approach to risk assessment can have a positive impact on communities because, as Van Dreal said, it helps take away the fear aspect that can interfere with the success of students. This community-approach model helps to increase the physical and psychological sense of safety in a community when it is known that potential risks are being addressed.

“I hope I’ve conveyed that we are pro-student and pro-safety,” said Van Dreal. “We want to provide respect and support [for students] to be able to do the right thing and to become good people.”


Montrose Daily Press

Emily Ayers is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.  You can reach her at
Montrose Daily Press | September 13, 2019
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The general population area is shown inside the Montrose County Detention Center Monday. The Montrose County Sheriff’s Office is receiving funds to improve jail-based mental health services. (Justin Tubbs/Montrose Daily Press)

Jails score $600K for mental health needs

By | Media Coverage, News

The Center for Mental Health is a partner in new grant funding to increase jail-based behavioral health services in Montrose, Delta, San Miguel and Gunnison counties

April 2, 2019 — Jail-based mental health services are poised to increase in the 7th Judicial District, thanks to a state grant that brings more resources to Montrose, Delta, San Miguel and Gunnison counties.

“This will give us additional mental health clinicians inside of our jails, as far as monitoring the inmates, which will help them as far as suicide prevention and drug-use and addiction,” said Montrose County Sheriff Gene Lillard, whose agency is administering the Jail-Based Behavioral Health Services Mental Health Expansion grant on behalf of all four counties, in conjunction with The Center for Mental Health.

“This is going to be win-win for all of the counties and The Center for Mental Health. We’re very excited about this.”

The Gunnison and San Miguel county sheriffs could not be reached Monday for comment.

“It allows the Delta County Sheriff’s Office detention facility to have an (additional) mental health clinician in our jail who supports inmates with substance abuse and any other issues they might have, that they normally wouldn’t get in a jail setting,” Delta County Sheriff Mark Taylor said.

The two remaining counties in the 7th Judicial District, Hinsdale and Ouray, do not have their own jails.

The hefty grant consists of more than $165,000 for the last remaining months of this fiscal year, plus more than $507,000 for the fiscal year beginning July 1, Center for Mental Health grant writer Janey Sorensen said.

A final contract is pending with the state Office of Behavioral Health.

The award provides money to hire more full-time equivalent mental health service providers to work in the jails, based on a prior needs assessment that was conducted as part of the application process.

The funding also includes money for recovery support when an inmate is released, to help that person live successfully in the community, Sorensen said.

The grant’s program manager is an MCSO employee, who will work with a Center for Mental Health program coordinator. The two in turn will be working with the jail administrators in all four of the counties, as well as with existing mental health service provider for the jail, CHP.

Lillard said the grant fills critical needs in the 7th Judicial District, where drug addiction and a high suicide rate are serious issues and long-term residential mental health care services are lacking. The $600,000-plus that’s coming the jails’ way will help bring in more clinicians, he said.

Sorensen said an earlier grant, awarded in 2012, brought jail-based counseling services in, but there were “holes” in that program: those benefiting had to have a substance abuse issue; funding did not provide for medication and it did not pay for psychiatry.

“I think the state took a long look at this and decided to expand services to make them more comprehensive,” she said. “… This new grant fills all of those holes and it’s going to be such a wonderful thing for the region.”

The new grant is an extension to the 2012 grant, for which Delta County is the pass-through, Taylor said.

His jail, too, has existing clinician services and a trained mental health co-responder who can accompany officers on calls when circumstances require it is stationed at the DCSO.

Both grants have helped area jails, Taylor said.

“It’s been a big help to have clinicians stationed in our detention facility,” he said.

The most recent grant money came from a law passed last year, which allocated more funding for jail based behavioral services. “The state recognized the four jails in our region as eligible and in need of these services. It was generous on their part to target funds where they were needed,” Sorensen said.

“This will give us additional counselors on board,” Lillard said. “Right now, we are up to seven days a week, 20 hours a day, for counseling and medical, provided by CHP… This will give us more money to be able to monitor our inmates and help them in crisis.”

Montrose County Sheriff’s Office is the fiscal agent for the new grant, because it has the most inmates and need, he said.

The expansion of services fits with overall needs and enhances resources, Lillard said.

Montrose Daily Press

Katharhynn Heidelberg is the senior writer for the Montrose Daily Press. Follow her on Twitter @kathMDP.
Montrose Daily Press | April 2, 2019
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