On average, one person every seven hours will die by suicide in the state of Colorado. This sobering statistic can often come as a shock, particularly since Colorado is renowned for its 300 days of sunshine a year, unparalleled access to the outdoors and high rankings for physical well-being. Despite being one of the best places to live in terms of physical health, Colorado consistently ranks poorly among the 50 states when considering mental and behavioral health prevalence and accessibility of care and resources. As more individuals, families and communities across Colorado face the painful and sometimes irreversible consequences of mental illness, it becomes increasingly evident that we all have a role to play in combating these issues.
Several of El Pomar Foundation’s 11 regional councils have already designated mental and behavioral health as their grant making focus area, and several other Councils are exploring a similar designation. With this increasing focus of the regional councils, El Pomar aimed to learn more first-hand about the state of mental health in Colorado. Aligning with National Mental Health Awareness Month, El Pomar hosted one of its largest convening meetings to date on May 23rd with a focus on mental and behavioral health in Colorado, particularly in the rural regions of the state.
El Pomar welcomed five mental health experts ranging from the executive director of a nationally-focused center for mental health innovation, to a small community clinic’s nurse practitioner to open a dialog about mental and behavioral health. Regional council members in attendance had the opportunity to engage in a question and answer session with each of the experts, during which the council members were able to address the concerns and opportunities specific to their own communities. El Pomar hopes that, with this information, regional council members will make more strategic and impactful grant making decisions, as well as identify stakeholders and partners with whom they can collaborate to improve the mental health of Coloradans.
Convening meetings like this are only a small part of the greater conversation surrounding the state of mental health in Colorado. While these meetings inform strategy and open doors to new partnerships, they are only the first step toward making a positive impact on mental and behavioral health in our state. Though El Pomar’s regional councils may not be able to solve Colorado’s mental health crisis alone, the Foundation is eager to play a small part in better serving the needs of Coloradans.
Spotlight by Kyle Boyle
State Fact Sheets. (2019, May 13). Retrieved May 28, 2019, from https://afsp.org/about-suicide/state-fact-sheets/#Colorado
The State of Mental Health in America 2018(Rep.). (n.d.). Retrieved May 28, 2019, from Mental Health America website: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/sites/default/files/2018 The State of MH in America - FINAL.pdf
Witters, D. (2019, February 27). Hawaii Tops U.S. in Wellbeing for Record 7th Time. Retrieved May 28, 2019, from https://news.gallup.com/poll/247034/hawaii-tops-wellbeing-record-7th-time.aspx