Colorado Community Paramedic Program To Provide Care To Mental Health Patients
Contact: Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry, Commissioner Jeanne McQueeney, Commissioner Jill Ryan, 970-328-8605, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 23, 2018 – In response to a growing urgency for mental health resources, the Eagle County Board of Commissioners has committed $500,000 toward addressing the most pressing community needs. Expenditure of the funds will come following a recommendation from the county’s newly-formed Mental Health Advisory Committee.
In making the decision, the commissioners reviewed some sobering statistics. Within Eagle County, 2017 was the worst year on record for suicides. Local mental health providers are reporting exponential increases in calls for service, in some instances resulting in weeks-long wait times for appointments with crisis counselors. According to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, Colorado ranks 31st in mental health spending in the U.S., leaving communities on their own to find ways to provide services.
In 2017, voters approved new sales and excise taxes of up to 5 percent each on recreational marijuana, establishing the county’s Mental Health Fund for the purpose of funding mental health and substance abuse services. The taxes are projected to generate approximately $1.2 million annually once the full rates are implemented. However, at the current rates of 2.5 percent each, collections in 2018 are expected to total about $500,000.
The county’s current investment will come from an existing fund balance in the county’s Public Health fund. Eagle County Paramedic Services is also providing startup funds, and has committed $100,000 toward strengthening the local mental health care system. The county is seeking additional partners to help address the most pressing needs.
As the Mental Health Fund grows, future expenditures will align to a process established by the advisory committee and the Total Health Alliance, a group which represents over 35 agencies and includes over 100 professionals and community advocates. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ECPublicHealth.