Dr. Barbara Leffler staerted the local chapter of the Mental Health Association
Jack Taylor presents a question from the audience for Mark Hulrbert
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert would like to see a local diversion program as a solution to incarceration.
Sandy Briggs offers an insiders perspective.
Dr. Don Parsons leads a distinguished panel
Both the panel and the audience at the October 11 forum sponsored by Our Future Summit, agreed that local mental health services are improving. Dr. Carolyn Sloan Burton , a psychiatrist in private practice, cited the formation of the Summit County Mental Health Association last fall, the Colorado West Mental Health facility in the new medical offices building, and excellent communication between health care providers, mental health professionals, and the criminal justice system as factors improving patient care. There are still serious gaps in the system according to Dr. Burton, including barriers to care due to poor insurance coverage, language and cultural issues, and a continuing lack of medical and support personnel.
The moderator for the forum, Dr. Don Parsons, pointed out that the number one provider of mental health services in the nation was the criminal justice system. District Attorney Mark Hurlbert agreed that this was a problem in Summit County. Though Sheriff Minor and the staff at the jail do work closely with mental health counselors, a diversionary program may help locals with addiction, anger and stress issues, avoid incarceration.
A new drug treatment for addiction, Suboxone , is being used by Dr. Julie Colliton, with excellent results. With the county lacking in addiction treatment programs and facilities, and serious drug use becoming a significant problem, Dr. Collitonís treatment program is a promising addition to local mental health services.
Sarah Pokorny Director of Colorado West Mental Health, is enthusiastic about recent improvements to their staff and facility. Colorado West has received a large grant to develop an integrated community mental health care program for Summit County. In addition to providing public mental health services for local patients, Colorado West is developing programs for mental health screenings, training mental health advocates and working with elementary school students.
Since its inception last fall, the Summit County Mental Health Association has been working to join public and private mental health services. Dr. Barbara Leffler detailed several of the groups efforts including confidential depression and mental health screenings at the 9 News Health Fair, psychological pharmacology workshops, peer and family support groups and training, and a community stress reduction seminar. The association is also involved in fund raising and legislative efforts.
Dr. Larry George expressed his desire for the health industry to provide a more integrative approach that take mental, physical, emotional and spiritual factors into the treatment of patients.
Our Future Summit Executive Director, Sandy Briggs provided his unique insights into the pain and suffering that mental illness can inflict on patients. Citing access to information about the availability of services as a key component of any community mental health program, he urged people who were having emotional and mental problems to seek treatment.
Our Future Summit is a local grassroots community service non profit organization that provides forums and information about issues that affect the lives of citizens of Summit County. Meetings are held every second Thursday each month, the general public is encouraged to attend. Information can be found at www.ourfuturesummit.org.
Dr Sloan Burton believes services in Summit County have improved dramatically in the past year
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