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Rocky Mountain Values Hosts Virtual Roundtable for Mental Health Awareness Month

Experts Discuss Impact of National Funding and Local Programs on Mental Health Across Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District

Rocky Mountain Values (RMV) held a virtual roundtable discussion to mark National Mental Health Awareness Month. Participants discussed the work being done at the national and local levels to tackle the twin crises of mental illness and substance abuse disorder in Colorado.

Lily Griego, Regional Director for Region 8 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Kelsie Borland, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Hive, a Durango, CO based non-profit, youth-centered community hub, participated in a live conversation moderated by RMV’s Executive Director Justin Lamorte. 

The challenges facing Colorado and the country are clear: studies show that 1 in 3 American adults face some form of mental illness or substance abuse disorder, and nearly half of American youth report persistent feelings of “sadness or hopelessness,” but too many who need mental health care go without it, including more than half of adults and nearly 70% of children. Lowering those numbers and reaching more people are priorities for the federal government and for local community groups, who are working together to make it happen.  

HHS Regional Director Lily Griego said, “Access to mental health care is essential to living a full, productive, and healthy life. That’s why President Biden has taken historic steps to combat this crisis. In the past four years, we made the largest national investment ever in youth mental health to hire and train mental health counselors in schools; expanded access to communities that lack mental health care facilities by adding Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics; launched 988, the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, which operates 24/7 and made crisis counseling available to every American; and expanded Medicare coverage to include mental health and substance abuse services. Working together with local providers across Colorado, we’re putting people to work and giving them the tools and training they need to deliver for the mental health needs of their communities.” 

The Hive Executive Director Kelsie Borland said, “Serving the Durango community for the past thirteen years, I’ve seen firsthand how the social isolation driven by the increased use of smartphones and social media and accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic is fueling a mental health crisis among Colorado children. The Hive provides a safe space, mentorship, and after-school programs in art, music, sports and more that foster a sense of community and steer young people away from substance abuse. The ongoing financial support from community members and the state and federal government is indispensable in our mission to grow our efforts to help Colorado children lead happier, healthier lives.”

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