“We can create a resilient community where we’re not afraid to talk about it, we’re not ashamed, we’re not worried.”
Boulder County is asking residents to share their experience about getting or trying to get mental health services and supports in the county. Any person who has struggled with a mental health issue, or has known someone who has is invited to fill out a six-question anonymous online survey to share their opinion.
Robin Bohannan, Boulder County Director of Community Services says the survey is part of an initiative called Community of Hope.”The Departments of Housing and Human Services, Public Health and Community Services, started looking at how can we align our services, resources, staff around the framework of the social determinants of health. So if I don’t have stable housing, it’s likely my physical health is not going to be good. If I’m a hungry kid and I go to school, my education is going to be hampered, so they’re all connecting. Health as one of those basic pillars of stability, quickly rose to the top for our group…and within health, mental health was seen as a huge issue within this community.”
16.6 people die of suicide in the County every year. Bohannan says that is below the state-wide average but worse than the national average. Mental health care is key to bringing down that figure.
“So what would we need to do as a community to drop that down?”
Bohannan says that one of the goals of getting community input on mental health care is to destigmatize mental health “so that we can create a resilient community where we’re not afraid to talk about it, we’re not ashamed, we’re not worried.”
Bohannan says the county already invests a lot of time, money and resources in this issue and yet people are still struggling to access services. The survey will help the county figure out where best to allocate funds and services. “We’ve learned through other projects that if we re-align our funding or find efficiencies in how we’re providing services, that there is an opportunity to be more efficient and effective and actually save dollars that could be tagged for an emerging population. We’ve done this very credibly with kiddos who are involved in the criminal justice who have mental health and substance abuse issues, so we’ve saved a lot of dollars by keeping those kids in the community, providing them with services and then re-investing those higher cost treatment dollars into more community based programs.”
The questions on the survey are designed to find out people’s experience in accessing mental health services in the county. Bohannan says access is two-fold “Is it easy? Is it available when I’m ready? Especially with mental health and substance abuse. Sometimes a crisis will provoke that readiness and if I don’t know where to go when I’m in crisis then I’m not going to get help when maybe it’s available but I just didn’t know it because it’s too complex…those kind of things, we absolutely need to look at.”
The survey has been extended until May 19th at: OurBoulderCounty.org/community-hope