New program to bring positive change |

New program to bring positive change

Susan Cunningham

For people facing an overwhelming problem, who feel stuck in a life that isn’t really what they want, or who just need someone to listen, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association is offering the new Positive Change Program.

The program began in November with an $8,000 grant for community-based suicide prevention efforts through the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and it is meant to help individuals focus on their strengths and overcome the obstacles they are facing.

Sandy Beran, VNA’s spiritual care coordinator, said the program is a good outlet for people who don’t think they need intensive mental health therapy, but instead just need someone to talk to — someone who will give them a chance to “dream a little.”

“Maybe they find themselves just kind of stuck and feeling like they’re not really going in the direction they (would) like to,” Beran said. “They may not even know what direction that is.”

The service is offered at the VNA office in Craig, but, as more people show interest, it could be expanded to Steamboat Springs, Beran said.

It is available for anyone — any age, any background, any ability to pay for the service, she said.

Through the program, a person would meet with Beran once to talk about the obstacles he or she is facing and the personal strengths that have helped in the past. The person then would commit to seven or eight short follow-up meetings to discuss how he or she is getting past those obstacles.

The strategy of shifting focus away from the problem and onto a positive is something that Beran said could be helpful for almost anyone. She’s found the strategy helpful in her own life, she said.

The program also could help reach people who haven’t asked for help.

Many people who commit suicide were depressed or struggling and did not ask for help, said Tom Gangel, program director for Steamboat Mental Health.

“We’re really trying to get to those folks who don’t ever think about mental-health help,” Gangel said.

One key message is that depression and other mental illnesses are treatable, he said. Another is that depression can be most difficult during the holidays, when people feel that they should be happy but can’t be, and when they are surrounded by others who are happy, Gangel said.

Anyone interested in more information can call Sandy Beran at 824-8233.

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