Meet the Grant Recipients of the Southwest Regional Council
The subject of mental and behavioral health has garnered national attention in recent years. In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis has been vocal about the need for increased access to behavioral health care across the state. One of his first acts as Governor was the creation of a behavioral health task force in an effort to improve the current system of treatment in Colorado. While such efforts on the state level are important, individual communities can also take action to address mental and behavioral health. In the last few years, several of El
Pomar Foundation’s regional councils have taken up the call to focus on mental health. The Southwest Regional Council in particular has worked to be strategic and proactive as they support evidence-based programs to address the mental and behavioral health of youth in the region.
La Plata Youth Services, The Piñon Project, Archuleta County and the San Juan Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) each received grant funding from the Southwest Regional Council to pursue their initiatives that support the mental and behavioral health of the community’s young people. The Council used the Behavioral Health Continuum of Care Model to inform their decision to focus on preventative services. This model outlines the multiple strategies to support behavioral health, which fall under the umbrellas of
promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery.
Below you will find a description of some of the great projects each of these organizations is pursuing.
La Plata Youth Services received funding for their Radical Possibilities Therapeutic Mentorship Program. This program serves youth in grades six through nine who are experiencing risk factors such as behavioral health issues, an unsafe home environment, social challenges and truancy that impact their ability to succeed in school. These young people receive one-on-one mentoring and participate in group meals throughout the school year. There were 12 participants during the 2018-2019 school year, and, among these individuals, the program recorded an increase in attendance, a reduction in behavioral incidents, and a reduction in suspensions. La Plata Youth Services collaborates with other behavioral health organizations and programs to ensure that students are broadly supported across different schools and districts.
The Piñon Project was the recipient of a grant for their High-Fidelity Wraparound Services Program (Wrap Lite). Students referred to the Wrap Lite program are supported in finding mental health providers, managing the complicated healthcare system and paying for their appointments. Staff also help students work with their teachers to stay on track at school. In the past year, 45 students received services from this program. Among these students, there was an overall increase in student grades and attendance.
The Council also collaborated with The San Juan Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) to support its School-based Suicide Prevention Programming. Through this program, teachers and mental health professionals in Pagosa Springs, Ignacio, Mancos, Cortez and Dolores received training for supporting an individual contemplating suicide. The program purchased the Signs of Suicide Screening tool for each secondary school in their partnership to ensure that supportive services are quickly provided for at-risk students. The Council also funded a pilot program introduced by San Juan BOCES that will implement trauma informed approach practices in schools throughout the Region. This initiative helped establish a network of stakeholders consisting of school officials, community groups and mental health professionals that will continue to implement suicide intervention programming for years to come.
Finally, Archuleta County received funding for the Stepping Stones Counseling Liaison Program for Archuleta School District. This past year, the program served 50 students who received early referral services before their needs became more severe. The three schools in the county have a great team of counselors that can devote time and energy to these young people. The grant also helped fund a full-time counselor at the elementary school.
By Claire Girardeau