Mental health dilemma

Posted 3/29/22

Since the start of the pandemic, there appears to be a lot more emphasis on doing something about the mental health crisis in this country. The problem is the help is coming at a pretty late date. In …

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Mental health dilemma

Posted

Since the start of the pandemic, there appears to be a lot more emphasis on doing something about the mental health crisis in this country. The problem is the help is coming at a pretty late date.

In talking to a clinician at the UCHealth hospital in Highlands Ranch, she was adamant that this crisis did not grow from the pandemic. Instead, she compared the situation to a pot, filled to the rim, and once the COVID-19 crisis hit the world, the pot boiled over out of control.

If we could point at something good coming from that pot boiling over — it is that we as a society can no longer just ignore or place small Band-Aids on a catastrophic problem. The state, cities, counties and hospitals and doctors are now turning their focus to the crisis and doing a lot more to address it.

Recently, through a Kaiser Permanente grant, Englewood Public Schools put $300,000 towards addressing mental health needs for students. This is a great start here. It is great that Kaiser made the project possible.

In Douglas County they are ahead of the curve. Good thinking many years ago has led to a great program there aimed at helping adults and children struggling with mental health. They continue to focus on getting people help rather than throwing them in jail cells. They focus on going directly into homes and showing that someone cares through the Community Response Teams.

The county initiative is also inside the schools, making sure students who need help are getting it.

At the college level, a recent discussion with a school official said young adults are taking on more today than ever before. They are trying to pass full class loads while working 40 hours a week just to be able to pay rent and get by.

As this official said, all of these students are one flat tire away from having full-blown meltdowns. To some, a flat tire should be seen as no big deal, but to the student juggling everything and barely holding it together, the flat tire is the last straw.

The pandemic has shown that while we often say our young children are resilient and will be fine — evidence shows the opposite. We should be applauding what Children’s Hospital Colorado had the foresight to do in 2021. That foresight was essentially speaking out.

CHC said hospital beds are not being filled with physically sick children. Instead, they are being filled with children and teens causing self-harm.

CHC called out the state government for not doing enough to address the issue. That has led to more discussions, more effort to help our children.

The problem, however, is the pot is boiling over and the concern now is did we wait too long to really start taking the crisis seriously? Can we stabilize an out-of-control situation?

I know there are a lot of local programs and community leaders who are taking on the crisis head on. As citizens, hopefully we too can jump in and help where we can.

Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media

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