Local mental health services seeing increased demand
Between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an active wildfire season and an upcoming election, more people in Grand County may be experiencing anxiety or depression, as evidenced by the increase in need reported by local health officials.
Makena Line, program director for Mind Springs Health in Granby, said Mind Springs has seen an increase in services provided this year.
“Stress can have a cumulative effect and there have been lots of different stressors this year in different ways that we’ve never experienced before,” Line said. “We’ve been very busy.”
Another sign that more locals may be feeling stressed is the increased use in mental health vouchers from the Grand County Rural Health Network. The vouchers help people afford mental health care in the county and Rural Health Network Executive Director Jen Fanning said they’ve been one of the most in demand resources her organization offers.
Fanning added that the increased demand for the vouchers is a good sign that more people are aware of the resource and are seeking help for their mental health.
Line explained that isolation can be an important contributing factor for people considering suicide, so sharing resources and checking in on one another is especially important during the pandemic.
“If someone opens up to us, we want to take the opportunity to listen to people and take them seriously,” she said.
Line added that asking someone if they are contemplating suicide can actually be a relief for some in the situation by providing an opportunity for help. Other ways to support someone in need include calling a helpline with them, sharing resources and emphasizing that recovery from suicidal thoughts is possible.
If someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts or is otherwise in a mental health or substance abuse crisis, 24/7 professional help is available through the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-8255 or by texting TALK to 32855. The line connects callers with local mobile crisis teams, which in Grand County is Mind Springs.
The crisis line also offers certified peer support and Mind Springs Health has its own support line at 877-519-7505 for people not in crisis. Mind Springs also partnered with the mobile app MyStrength to provide mental health tips for free using the code WellnessGranby.
“Feeling hopelessness can be one of the largest drivers of contemplating suicide or add extra stress or pressure on our mental wellbeing,” Line said. “It’s so important for all of us to have open and honest communication with our friends, our families, our neighbors about mental health and our well being right now.”
Some signs that someone may be experiencing suicidal thoughts include talking about or joking about suicide, acting withdrawn, increased use of drugs or alcohol or acting reckless.
According to experts, suicide is rarely the result of one event or factor, but rather a build up of factors or events.
There are many coping mechanisms that can be used to manage stress and anxiety, which can help prevent someone from feeling overwhelmed, Line said. For one, while it’s important to stay informed, Line said setting boundaries for social media and news is important.
“If we’re feeling particularly vulnerable, watching or reading news stories that are particularly graphic can lead to more distress,” she said.
Other suggestions focus on building resiliency, including practicing mindfulness or meditation, sharing gratitude, building routines, practicing kindness and knowing when to take a break.
For those interested in more mental health resources, Mind Springs offers Mental Health First Aid classes by request, as well as free gun locks for safe storage.
Mind Springs in Granby is currently taking new clients and has walk-in hours from 8:30-10:30 a.m. Mondays.
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