GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Mental illness touches a quarter of U.S. society directly, yet it is a subject most don’t talk about openly. On April 5, residents of the Western Slope will join four other regions in Colorado to host the first of a series of community dialogs aimed at identifying, prioritizing and developing community-driven mental health action plans.
The event is part of a nationwide, grassroots effort known as Creating Community Solutions. The effort’s goal is to further the national dialogue on mental health launched by President Obama and the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and spearheaded by the National Institute of Civil Discourse.
Members of the public are invited to participate in this free, first-of-its-kind community event to discuss mental health issues specific to the Western Slope. It will provide a safe place to share experiences, concerns, hopes and ideas related to mental health.
The event takes place from 2-4:30 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at the Glenwood Springs Branch Library Community Room, 815 Cooper Ave.
“The more people who get in on this conversation, the better our understanding will be of what people are coping with and how we, as a community, can provide greater support,” said Jeanette Darnauer, president of Darnauer Group Communications and a board member for Mind Springs Health, one of the groups collaborating in the Creating Community Solutions Colorado project. “We hope that residents of all ages, from youth to seniors, will attend and contribute to the conversation.”
The April 5 gathering culminates with a Rocky Mountain PBS Special Event in May that will connect the Western Slope conversation to others around the state. The purpose of this live show will be to share information about existing resources and to develop action plans that address the concerns that have arisen from the multiple conversations throughout Colorado.
Community dialogs are being held in five regions: Northeast (Fort Collins), Central (Denver), Western Slope (Glenwood Springs), South Central (Colorado Springs) and Southeast (Pueblo). These regional dialogs will ensure issues specific to different parts of the state are being identified and prioritized in order to develop effective, community-based solutions.
Nationwide, several states are engaging in similar programs and sharing information through the National Institute for Civil Discourse website, www.creatingcommunitysolutions.org. This effort was launched in response to a National Conference on Mental Health held at the White House in June 2013, where President Barack Obama called for a nationwide conversation to increase understanding and awareness of mental health issues.