Aspen Strong to offer services combating suicide |

Aspen Strong to offer services combating suicide

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

Pitkin County’s suicide rate is triple the national average, according to the Aspen Strong Foundation’s Christina King.

The Aspen Strong Foundation is a Roaring Fork Valley nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise awareness of and improve mental health by creating sustainable financial resources and connecting professionals and agencies in mental health.

King founded Aspen Strong in August 2014 with the goal of serving as an umbrella organization to as many health providers in the valley as possible.

One way the organization works to connect is through its online provider directory, which features 50 mental-health providers from Aspen to Parachute.

“Our hope is to create a valleywide movement whereby people recognize that mental health is important not only to their individual self and their families but also to the organization where they work,” King said.

The foundation’s upcoming initiative looks toward and emphasizes the role of the organizational structure as it relates to mental hygiene.

In January, the Aspen Strong Foundation will provide a group of selected local organizations with anonymous, online screening examinations designed to recognize individuals at risk for treatable mental-health disorders, King said.

The foundation’s partner organizations for the initiative include the city of Aspen, Pitkin County, the Valley Health Alliance, the Aspen Police Department, Mountain Family Health and the Aspen Clinic.

King said the foundation chose the city and the county as partners because both have funded Aspen Strong in the form of grants.

“We felt like it was our way of giving back,” she said.

In addition to providing the exams, Aspen Strong will meet with each organization quarterly throughout the year to review the screening tools’ data as well as analytical reports from the foundation’s health providers.

Because the data reports from the screening are specific to each group, they will be able to reveal red flags specific to each organization, King said.

The reports will entail information such as individuals’ demographic or relationship status as it relates to a health disorder, King said.

“This is the data we’re looking for and how we can make a difference by having that information,” King said.

For example, if the data report of one organization indicates far higher rates of depression, the foundation may look into organizing an educational depression class and other resources tailored to help that group specifically, King said.

One year of the screening exams and services per organization costs $695, which the Aspen Strong Foundation has agreed to pay in full for its first year.