Eagle County to help fund four more local mental health efforts | VailDaily.com

Eagle County to help fund four more local mental health efforts

Money from pot tax will fund outreach to Hispanic community, early childhood efforts and professional recruitment

The MIRA van, a mobile outreach effort developed by Vail Health, Our Community Foundation and Eagle County Public Health, is one of the programs that will receive funding from Eagle County's mental health program in 2019.

EAGLE — Eagle County has nearly $1.3 million available to help fund local mental health programs in 2019 and 11 entities are lined up to split that pot.

For 2019, the county is anticipating $400,000 in revenue from its marijuana sales and excise tax along with a healthy carryover ($898,000) from 2018. Part of the reason there is such a sizable carryover ties back to the Eagle County commissioners’ 2018 decision to make a one-time contribution of $500,000 from the county’s general fund to jump-start mental health services funding.

In the year ahead, the largest expenditure from the county’s mental health fund will be $400,000 for school-based mental health counselors. Last year the commissioners approved a five-year plan for the school-based counselor funding.

“That funding decreases a bit every year, but we are continuing to provide the school mental health counselors through 2022,” said Dana Erpelding, deputy director of Eagle County Public Health and Environment.

Additionally the county had previously approved 2019 funding for six other organizations/programs:

  • $80,000 — Jail-based counselors
  • $100,000 — Hope Center crisis response
  • $114,367 — Mind Springs crisis response
  • $21,600 — Eagle River Youth Coalition Eat Chat Parent
  • $20,000 — Valley Settlement Bilingual therapists
  • $50,000 — SpeakUp ReachOut suicide prevention training

Last week, the commissioners followed up those commitments by agreeing to fund four more programs, totaling $139,120. The funding requests were endorsed by the Eagle County Mental Health Advisory Committee.

“These requests were vetted through the mental health committee, and they are all operating in Eagle County and are evidenced-based programs,” said Erpelding. In their presentations to the committee members, organizations were asked to identify the specific problems they address and provide infamation about how they will measure the impact of the grant dollars they receive.

“The Mental Health Advisory Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions about how the requested funding would make improvements,” said Erpelding. “Each organization will have to provide data on a quarterly basis to show how they are making a positive impact.”


Launched in 2018, the Mobile Intercultural Resource Alliance vehicle brings programs and services directly to county residents. This year, MIRA will get $60,000 in mental health funding.

As noted in the MIRA funding request, approximately 30 percent of the adults in Eagle County are Hispanic and 32 percent of Eagle County Schools students are English language learners.

“Behavior health issues do not discriminate. Our Hispanic/Latino community shares the burden of mental illness with the rest of our community, with added complexities such as the lack of inclusivity, English as second language, limited cultural awareness/competence by organizations/providers, lack of trust, legal status and more,” noted the MIRA funding request. “Eagle County is rich with resources to support life challenges that can lead to poor mental health, but the system for doing so is fragmented, challenging to access and/or not culturally competent.”

Erpelding said the $60,000 will be earmarked for a full-time bilingual specialst position who will travel with the MIRA van to help link people to community mental health services.

Buddy Program in El Jebel/Basalt

A portion of the county’s marijuana tax is collected in the Roaring Fork Valley and the commissioners have committed to providing funding to community organizations in that area that address mental health.

According to Erpelding, the county will provide $15,000 to the Buddy Program, which provides outdoor education and mentor opportunties to youth. The organization has a 25-year history in Roaring Fork Valley.

Bright Future Foundation

As Eagle County works to provide better mental health services to the community, a key problem has become apparent — the current behavioral health workforce does not sufficiently meet the needs of the community. Eagle County has officially been classified as having a mental health provider shortage.

The Bright Future Foundation’s student training program works to help fill the gap. In 2019, the program will receive $15,000 in mental health funds for its Eagle County internship program.

Through the local program, master’s- and doctorate-level behavioral health students complete clinical internships in Eagle County, expanding the local provider base.

“The students have to meet certain criteria to be eligible. They come from universities all over the country, ” said Erpelding.”It is a great way for students to finish their educations and learn about practicing in a rural area.”

“It’s also a great way to recruit and retain students,” Erpelding continued. “When students come to intern in a community, they often put down roots in the area.”

Early Childhood Partners

Finally, the county has earmarked $49,120 for the Early Childhood Partners.

“The science of early childhood development shows that the foundation of sound mental health is built early in life,” noted the organization’s funding request.

The money will pay for a half-time position dedicated to early childhood mental health consultation and a new program called Seedlings. Seedlings is a 10-class series for parent that focuses on healthy childhood development and teaches parents methods to protect their kids from adverse childhood experiences.

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