Letter: Bring mental health care to the forefront; vote ‘yes’ on 1A | VailDaily.com

Letter: Bring mental health care to the forefront; vote ‘yes’ on 1A

Dear editor: Eagle County may be known as Happy Valley, but for many families, it is far from a utopia. This year alone, 11 people in our community have been reported to have died by suicide, and our suicide rates are double the state average. Numerous others must go to a state hospital for emergency mental health treatment — facilities that are hours away from Eagle County. There is a mental-health crisis across the United States, and Eagle County is far from exempt.

However, change is afoot, and support for mental health is mounting with Ballot Issue 1A: a tax on recreational marijuana sales throughout the county that will fund mental health treatment.

The plan is to allocate the first $1.2 million from taxes on recreational marijuana sales and growers to help with services including operating a social detox center for safe detox; crisis stabilization beds, where those suffering from a mental health emergency can be held for up to five days; and respite care for people living with mental illness who may be contemplating suicide.

The Eagle River Youth Coalition supports prevention efforts, and we also support taxing recreational marijuana to support mental health in the valley. Together, we can be stronger and support youth and adults on their quest for mental stability.

Until the tax initiative passes, we will continue to offer supports. On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7, we will be hosting a powerful conversation on suicide from a first-person teen's perspective; how she fought, and continues to fight, depression and suicide. We will also have a parent talk about his struggle emotionally in helping a clinically depressed child through his heartbreaking journey. We will host this event again on Wednesday, Nov. 8. We hope to see you there to have an open conversation.

Please join us in supporting the tax initiative and mental-health efforts in our community. Without your support, mental health will continue to take the back burner with harrowing consequences, a chance the Eagle County community cannot afford to take.

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Michelle Stecher

Executive director, Eagle River Youth Coalition