A full-time mental health therapist at Aspen High School and a Rapid-Response Mobile Unit Program are among the new mental health services that will be made possible by the combined efforts of Pitkin County Government, the City of Aspen, the Aspen Skiing Company, and the Aspen School District. The group, known as the Mental Health Strategic Funding Advisory Committee, has agreed to pool resources to support a partnership between Mountain Family Health Centers and Mind Springs Health, the largest area mental health provider on the Western Slope.
“We agree that mental health and substance use have long been identified as the most significant health issues facing the people who live, work and play in Pitkin County,” said Pitkin County Human Services Director, Nan Sundeen. “High rates of suicide, mixed messages surrounding the promotion of our “party town”, financial pressures and the lack of psychiatric care and specialized support for marginalized populations inspired this group to take action,” Sundeen said.
During its needs assessment analysis of the realities of the current local mental health care system, the advisory committee confirmed the belief that residents were falling through the cracks due to uncoordinated and fragmented services.
After meeting regularly since November 2016 the Advisory Committee launched a strategic funding plan and issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) directed to local mental health providers. At the conclusion of the RFP, the decision was made to pool financial resources to allow Pitkin County Public Health to enter into a contract for services with Mind Springs Health (collaborating with Mountain Family Health Centers) for Community Mental Health, an Integrated Care Program, and School-Based Health.
Combined funding for mental health now totals $488,000 with the Aspen School District contributing $40,000, the City of Aspen contributing $70,550, Aspen Valley hospital contributing $$73,275, and the Pitkin County Healthy Community Fund contributing $304,507.
“By pooling our resources to Mind Springs Health we think we’ll get more ‘bang for our buck’ in terms of mental health services,” Sundeen said. “Having full and part-time therapists in schools and the addition of the Rapid Response Mobile Unit is a huge step forward for Pitkin County. Integrated mental health care, case management, psychiatric medication management, tele-psych access and crisis services are just what the doctor ordered for this community,” Sundeen said.
CONTACT: Karen Koenemann - 970.319.8634