Eagle County Commissioners: Bending the curve on behavioral health | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Commissioners: Bending the curve on behavioral health

Eagle County Board of Commissioners
Valley Voices
Commissioners Kathy Chandler-Henry, Jeanne McQueeney and Matt Scherr.
Special to the Daily

Just over a month ago, during our annual State of the County presentation, we challenged ourselves and our community to find ways to influence negative trends we want to disrupt, or in other words, to “bend the curve” toward positive outcomes. We shared our belief that when we see the trajectory of an issue going in a direction that is not optimal, we can choose to wring our hands or roll up our sleeves and make a difference. We said we have the right people in the right place at the right time to empower action. Wow, was that an understatement.

Vail Health’s pledge of $60 million over 10 years toward addressing critical behavioral health needs in the Eagle Valley is a game changer. In partnership with other community groups, a new nonprofit will be created to build facilities and improve access to care. The commitment is jaw-droppingly huge.

There is no doubt we are in the middle of a mental health crisis. More than one million Coloradans struggle with a behavioral health condition. Eagle County averages nearly a suicide attempt per day — 324 in 2018 — and nearly one in four local 7th and 8th graders seriously considered suicide in 2017. County voters in 2017 approved a tax on marijuana to be used for mental health services. Since then, community groups, schools and individuals have stepped up to fill the gap and provide care for our residents.

Now, we have the opportunity to build a state-of-the-art behavioral health system, encompassing both mental health services and substance abuse and addiction services, that will provide care for people no matter their circumstances. The hope is that this model can be replicated in other communities experiencing the same challenges we are.

With credit to Vail Health for being a leader and champion for the cause, the creation of Eagle Valley Behavioral Health is truly the culmination of a tremendous effort by dozens of community members and organizations. It is a testament to the power and potential of everyone in this county. The right people in the right place at the right time, taking action and bending the curve.