Letter: County pot tax question brings crucial funding for mental health | VailDaily.com

Letter: County pot tax question brings crucial funding for mental health

I urge the community to support 1A. As a mental health specialist, I have experienced firsthand how our community is impacted by lack of mental health services. I spent more than eight years working with Mind Springs Health as a child and family therapist and praise their efforts to do what they can with limited resources. Over the past 14 years, along with my teammates at Early Childhood Partners, I have provided mental-health consultation to our youngest children, their families and child-care providers. I am proud of all the work that is done in all of these settings, but it isn't enough.

I see what happens to the children who aren't able to manage their feelings, make friends or deal with the toxic stress that is created in their environment. I see young children who have significant behavioral concerns who aren't given support before their issues become serious. I see the parents who do not have the skills to provide an optimal early-childhood experience for their children. I see the young adults who contemplate suicide because they do not have coping strategies. I have seen, too, the people in our community with mental illness such as mood disorders and substance-use disorders who struggle to get help.

What all of these people have in common is a lack of resources. Parents have no one to reach out to when they are stressed and have limited classes available to them to learn to be better parents. Teachers and parents don't always have the support they need to deal with children with challenging behaviors who could be at risk for expulsion from their child care. Our young people don't have access to school counselors on a regular basis. People struggling with mental illness need to travel to Grand Junction, Denver or Pueblo to receive supervised care.

We need a continuum of mental-health services to support people of all ages to be as healthy as they can be. We need counselors, therapists, walk-in clinics and supervised bed spaces. We need preventive care before issues develop.

We have an opportunity to provide a sustainable funding source that will move to fix these deficits in our community through the taxation of recreational marijuana. Now is the time to create a community able to care for all its residents; an opportunity to help everyone develop optimal mental health.

Please join me in voting yes on 1A.

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Julia Kozusko, LPC

Executive director, Early Childhood Partners

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