Rocky Mountain ski towns are known worldwide for their pristine, snowy slopes, laid-back vibe, and their plethora of microbreweries. People flock to the region annually to partake in various activities spanning all four seasons, from mountain biking to whitewater rafting to downhill skiing. It is a mecca that draws in many looking for adventure and beauty, but many may not realize that the region is also well known for a much darker reason.
The mental health crisis is impacting mountain towns at a startling rate. According to the Colorado School of Public Health, destination cities like Aspen and Telluride experience mental health emergencies at a rate two to three times higher than the national average. Recognizing a dire need to shed light on the subject, advocates, mental health professionals, and nonprofits are working tirelessly to combat this crisis from the frontlines and provide potentially lifesaving support to community members in need.
The Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado hosted legendary downhill racing champion Bode Miller in a four-part speaking series in Durango and Pagosa last October, where the athlete turned mental health advocate shared his film The Paradise Paradox and participated in Q and A discussions with the community. In partnership with Emmy Award-winning impact sports filmmaker Brett Rapkin, the film delves into the mental health crisis impacting ski towns and the innovative solutions communities are developing to curb it.
Based on feedback from previous Making a Difference Speaker Series events, the Community Foundation added discussion panels with local mental health professionals to dig deep and prompt important conversations and possible actions to support our regional mental health resources. The Community Foundation also curated a list of the many resources discussed during those meaningful discussions.
"The discussion panels were a beautiful way to bring like-minded individuals and professionals to the table to facilitate compassionate discussions around the mental health needs in our community. Everyone was there to share and learn from one another, and a web of connections was created to nurture further collaboration on this important issue," said Briggen Wrinkle, Executive Director of the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado.
As a result of these conversations, $15,000 in grants from the Foundation’s La Plata County Fund went to three organizations on the frontlines, helping community members navigate mental health challenges with compassion. The Hive, In the Weeds, and the Grief Center of Southwest Colorado will use their $5,000 grants to support the community through programming and initiatives that target mental health improvements for youth, hospitality workers, and grieving individuals.
Through raising awareness and compassion, the film and area nonprofits aim to create sustainable community programs that support those in crisis. If you are interested in supporting these organizations, monetary donations are always welcome and go a long way in helping them reach their goals.
A mental health resource guide is available on the Community Foundation’s website. In addition, small-group showings of The Paradise Paradox are available for free, and details are available on the same website. The La Plata County Fund continues to accept donations at swcommunityfoundation.org. Click the ‘donate’ button and select the La Plata County Fund to help sustain future grants for local nonprofits.
As a community facilitator, the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado works to increase sustainability and success for nonprofits while maximizing effective grantmaking for philanthropists to make Southwest Colorado a better place to live.
The discussion panels were a beautiful way to bring like-minded individuals and professionals to the table to facilitate compassionate discussions around mental health needs in our community.