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Mental Health in the Roaring Fork Valley

Many people move to Colorado, and to the Roaring Fork Valley in particular, for the wonderful things it offers. From a variety of outdoor sports, no matter the season, to cultural events in Aspen, local small-town living, and vibrant community, we live in a place that many consider a destination. And we are thankful!

But, in a hard-to-grapple-with reality, we have mental health issues running rampant (as does the entire country, by the way). According to the Executive Director of the Aspen Community Foundation, “Nationally, about 1 in 4 adults experience a mental-health issue, and in Colorado, the number increases to about 1 in 3 people. Estimates for Pitkin County vary, but all agree that the county’s rate is significantly higher than our state’s average and the national average [and] …[the] Pitkin County Public Health Improvement Plan identified mental health and substance abuse as the most ‘severe burden’ on overall community health” (Tormohlen, 2015). Those are big (and scary!) statements and numbers. And, it’s not only Pitkin County; Eagle and Garfield counties suffer, too.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. There are many people and professionals working to improve these numbers, de-stigmatize mental health issues and getting mental health care. And with each ounce of work done by these wonderful people, they are screaming to the community: It doesn’t have to be this way.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Emotions pass, hard times get less hard, and good times are around the corner, but sometimes we have a hard time seeing that when we’re in it, so deep in it. I think everyone can relate to that feeling.

Sometimes we don’t know if we need help, or we think that we may benefit from help but we tell ourselves that surely what we’re going through isn’t big or tough enough to merit it. Sometimes we decide we need help and we don’t know where to get started.

Here’s a solution, provided by Aspen Strong: take a free, anonymous mental health screening. This screening is purely informational and not diagnostic, and will provide you with some “Next Steps” in case you decide “Hey, maybe I could use some help right now”.

I’ll speak for myself, though: going to therapy and having someone listen to me talk about my world for an hour and provide some feedback on how I can be better is like taking one hundred deep breaths. It’s hard work, but it is full of growth and relief and betterment of myself and my world. And isn’t that what therapy is? Growing? It doesn’t have to be so foreign and scary, and you don’t have to be going through anything earthshattering to benefit from it. There are always things we can work on and through—always. We’re never finished growing.

So, to everyone asking any semblance of:

“Could I benefit from therapy?”

“Do I need mental health help right now?”

“I’ve been feeling anxious/sad/depressed, what can I do about it?”

“Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t feel such a weight all the time?”

“Something isn’t right in my world, but I don’t know what it is or how to fix it.”

…and many other things, here’s a good place to start. Take Aspen Strong’s free, anonymous mental health screen: http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/aspenstrong

Let’s be a community that works together to make sure we’re all taken care of and doing well. And let’s start here. It doesn’t have to be the way it is right now. It’s your move.

Reference: Tormohlen, T. (2015, September 29). Guest column: Mental illness is more common than you’d guess. The Aspen Times, http://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/guest-column-mental-illness-is-more-common-than-youd-guess/

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