Nancy Spillane: It is time for a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence
Behavioral health is a concept that includes not only ways of promoting well-being by preventing or intervening with help for mental illness but also has as an aim of preventing or intervening in substance abuse and other addictions. Around the country, health reform has found some pockets of innovation. Mental health and addiction provider organizations, using creativity and sheer will, have worked to expand service capacity, build partnerships with other community resources and train staff.
What we know:
- Routt County has the fourth highest suicide rate per county in Colorado. Routt, Moffat, Jackson, Grand and Rio Blanco counties have a combined suicide rate of 25 per 100,000 people, higher than the statewide average of 20.5. Overall, the Rocky Mountain states have the highest suicide rates in the nation.
- In November, the Steamboat Pilot & Today reported that in Northwest Colorado, “one in 10 people struggle with a substance use disorder annually.” It is difficult to determine the number of deaths from substance abuse since not all are reported as such.
- The average number of available psychiatric hospital beds in Colorado is 24 per 100,000 people; on the Western Slope, we have six. West Springs Hospital in Grand Junction is the only inpatient psychiatric hospital between Denver and Salt Lake City.
- In its 2019 to 2022 Yampa Valley Medical Center Implementation Strategy, the hospital stated that its priorities for the future include behavioral health care and improved mental health and substance use disorder treatment services. So why not create a Northwest Colorado Behavioral Health Center of Excellence right here in Steamboat Springs? The sale of the hospital generated tens of millions of dollars for capital projects, which could be used for this purpose.
A Behavioral Health Center of Excellence could be an integral part of a healthy community — providing rapid access to specialty behavioral health services that include high value, comprehensive, whole person care supporting resiliency, recovery and results in excellent outcomes.
It is time.
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