Muething: Offering hope and help when a crisis arrives |

Muething: Offering hope and help when a crisis arrives

Michelle Muething
Valley Voices

How do we get ourselves or a loved one through a crisis? Hope and help. Here in Eagle County, there are both. The Hope Center’s mission is to extend a beacon of hope to those in emotional crisis and offer a continuum of comprehensive care.

Since October 2018, the Hope Center has worked alongside Eagle County law enforcement and paramedic services, meeting people in their homes, on park benches, in schools and at doctors’ offices. With a 24-hour crisis line, the Hope Center takes calls day and night. Our compassionate clinicians come to you or invite you into the office the same day, and most times within the same hour.

Coordinating efforts with our first responders reduces the need for ambulance transport and Emergency Department visits. This saves critical time, energy and cost. Since October 2018, transports to the hospital for mental health evaluations are down 74%. That’s nearly $1.3 million in savings for our patients by avoiding costly ambulance and emergency department bills.

In addition to crisis response, the Hope Center has partnered with the school district to support our youngest community members. Nine behavioral health clinicians will be available for students in local schools this fall. Two years ago, we had zero. The goal of the school program is to reach our youth who may be struggling or “at risk” and counsel them before a crisis occurs.

Our clinicians see the students at school and work to help them with the issues they find most pressing. This past year, our clinicians had nearly 3,000 student interactions and spent more than 33,000 meaningful hours with students. We will continue to grow this program with the help of Eagle County Schools, Eagle County and local donors. 

As the state makes an effort to transform behavioral health, officials are looking to the Hope Center as a model. Recently, it was determined that state funding would support the Hope Center for crisis response in Eagle County. When you enter a relationship with the Hope Center, you are given access to the many resources we have available right here in the community. Upon an initial assessment, we make referrals to others, bridge gaps, find practical solutions to life crises and follow up. Everyone receives help and hope.

With the recent establishment of the new Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, local resources will become more abundant and more coordinated. A mental health “system” will no longer refer to one entity doing it all; rather, the system will consist of a multitude of agencies, woven together, gently moving people to resources that genuinely meet their needs. This type of coordinated care will change the landscape of mental health in the Eagle River Valley, and I could not be prouder to be a part of this new era.

A crisis is not planned or timed; by its very definition, it is unexpected and unable to be handled alone. People often ask what led me to be so passionate about crisis work. The truth is, I think the human brain is fascinating in its complexity, the human spirit is remarkable in its tenacity, and my energy swells when I advocate for those who are not able to advocate for themselves.

The person in a manic episode who cannot be calmed, someone with schizophrenia who believes with all the fibers of his being that something delusional is true, the person in such deep depression that she wills her body to move and it can’t — these are the people I have a passion to work with. This is the passion I bring to the Hope Center and share with my colleagues in this initiative.

If you or someone you love is in crisis, remember there is help and there is hope. Call the 24-hour Colorado crisis line at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.

Michelle Muething is the executive director of The Hope Center.

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