Letter: Hard to find local mental health care help in Eagle County; 1A will provide it
November 3, 2017
Our bodies and our brains are inseparable. But we live our lives in thought and think of our bodies as something separate from our thoughts.
A body needs nourishment, exercise and care. That's why we have health facilities and hospitals. We meet the needs of patients with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney malfunctions, blood disorders, arthritis and Alzheimer's.
We have ambulances with EMTs that will quickly whisk you away to a local hospital for the care you need. Did you injure your knee on the mountain skiing? Were you in a car crash? Did you suffer a medical episode at home that required immediate care, called 911 and within 30 minutes were treated at the local hospital?
But what if you were not aware of your need because of a problem that resides in your brain? Your cognitive function may not let you know that you were in desperate need of care.
Do you find yourself unable to resolve a conflict? Do you exhibit behavior that others might question? Do you have obsessive behavior that involves drugs or alcohol? Do you suffer from uncontrolled depression or anxiety? Have you seemed out of sorts due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? Do you have trouble concentrating or staying on task? Have you thought of harming yourself or others? Are you recently divorced or lost a loved one and don't know how to cope? Have you felt so miserable that you contemplated taking your own life to end the situation?
If you suspect that any of the above may be true and describe you, I'm sorry to say that you will be lucky to find any immediate local help for your condition.
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In Eagle County, we have no crisis stabilization beds or respite care for such emergencies.
Most people do not realize that a psychiatrist is not a counselor. Counseling is important, but only a psychiatrist can diagnose and provide medications that can stabilize the chemical imbalances in the brain. Your brain needs care, it's the workhorse of your body and mind.
Medications prescribed by a psychiatrist can target specific malfunctioning neurotransmitters in the brain and provide relief within a matter of days. It's sad that people with mental health issues are often only identified after committing a crime while spending time at the County jail. For what other illness are you incarcerated?
Twelve people in Eagle County have not found the help they needed this year, and as a result, have taken their own lives. The number usually averages seven per year and is one of the highest in the State of Colorado. These actions are preventable. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. How many are suffering in silence and how many are unable to get the help they need?
We have fundraising events for all sorts of ailments of the body. But everyone forgets the most important organ of all- the brain. Unfortunately, mental health patients must travel up to two hours for help and can wait 30 hours or more for treatment or placement in a mental health facility. In addition, EMTs and police must currently leave our County to transport patients' hours away from home, reducing the effectiveness of our local resources.
Vote "yes" on 1A to get our community the facilities and professionals we need to combat the rampant epidemic of mental health issues in our community. Help to save a life, it might be your own or maybe your loved one's!
Glenn and Agnes Harakal