Vail Health CEO: Vote ‘yes’ for Eagle County Ballot 1A to fund mental health programs |

Vail Health CEO: Vote ‘yes’ for Eagle County Ballot 1A to fund mental health programs

On the frontlines where our police officers, paramedics, nurses and physicians see mental illness and substance abuse on full display, it is scary and heartbreaking. These issues affect every age and income level in Eagle County. Our role as a community is not to judge, but to help.

Mental illness and substance abuse are community epidemics that can only be solved by working together. Vail Health Hospital has seen a staggering 243 percent increase in detox patients from 210 encounters in 2014 to 511 in 2016. Our suicide rates in Eagle County are double the state average. We must come together to help our own.

Currently, there is no reliable funding mechanism to adequately address our growing behavioral health issues. For the first time, we have the opportunity to enact a very real solution toward improving mental health resources in Eagle County.

By taxing recreational marijuana, our community can establish $1.2 million in designated annual funding to help solve mental illness and substance abuse issues locally. These funds would not be used to build facilities, but to operate mental health walk-in clinics, respite care, crisis stabilization and social detox units through knowledgeable mental health experts.

We cannot rely on anyone outside this community to come to the rescue — we need to take care of our own. Please join me in voting “yes” for mental health on Eagle County Ballot 1A.

Doris Kirchner

President and CEO, Vail Health

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