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City of Aspen partners with agencies for mental health, substance abuse programs

SHARING THE COST

The 2020 cost sharing breakdowns among entities for mental health and substance abuse at Aspen School District:

Community Mental Health: $171,468

* This includes one full-time licensed therapist, who is a rapid response mobile unit team member. This includes intensive, community based, outpatient treatment focused on high-risk individuals who might not come into a clinic setting. Also includes case management, therapy services and 1/3 cost of a vehicle. This position also serves as a stabilization program team member to serve as a bridge between crisis services and standard outpatient services.

* One full-time case manager, who is a rapid response mobile unit team member and an intensive stabilization program team member

* 60 hours a year of advanced psychiatric nurse practitioner time for jail: individuals who need mental health interventions but did not meet the state’s criteria. The nurse can prescribe to individuals needing medication management.

Integrated Care Program: $197,818

* This includes two full-time behavioral health specialists. These staff members will work in the MFHC Basalt Clinic and expand the current behavioral health program there. They will provide outpatient (six sessions) services for families, substance use disorders, trauma, hypnosis, animal assisted and other evidence-based therapies.

* Two full-time patient care coordinators will work in the MFHC Basalt Clinic, one will be a patient educator, and the other a social health advocate. The patient educator will advocate for the patient and family, facilitating culturally appropriate communication between patient and providers, and will identify and decrease barriers to behavior change and improve access to needed services.

The social health advocate will provide care coordination to patients who are at most risk for health deterioration sentinel events and/or poor outcomes.

The social health advocate will assess the determinants of health and assist the patient in addressing barriers and increase access to services. • Tele psych (four hours) virtual meeting with a psychiatrist.

School-based therapists: $155,715

* Two full-time Aspen School District therapists for on-site student and family therapy and consultation with school staff to facilitate assessment by a multidisciplinary team available to all three schools Incentive program for provider staff: $31,000

* Hiring bonuses and housing allowances

Total funding contributions for 2020:

Aspen School District: $40,000

Aspen Valley Hospital: $ 73,275

City of Aspen: $107,550

Pitkin County Healthy Community Fund: $335,507

Total: $556,332

* Pitkin County is providing office space at no cost at the Schultz Health and Human Services building and Aspen School District is providing office space for a school therapist at the Aspen Middle School at no cost.

Source: City of Aspen

Aspen City Council on Tuesday approved a one-year intergovernmental agreement with local entities to continue to provide mental health and substance abuse services.

Mind Springs Health will carry out the services on behalf of the city, Pitkin County, Aspen Valley Hospital and Aspen School District, all of which are funding the effort.

Additional money from the city’s tobacco tax allows for a full-time school counselor, rather than a part-time one, which has been the case in the past.

The addition of that position brings it up to two counselors for the district, which makes it easier to attract qualified candidates, according to interim Aspen School District Superintendent Tom Heald.

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Council in 2017 first approved the agreement beginning in 2018 and it continued throughout 2019.

Councilwoman Ann Mullins said on Tuesday that while she has been a supporter since the outset of the program, she wants to see metrics and results from last year’s efforts.

City Manager Sara Ott said Mind Springs Health does quarterly reports and submits them to the Pitkin County Health Department, which does a final report.

Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the department is maxed and is limited in getting a report done in the short term.

The IGA is part of a larger effort by the city to tackle substance abuse, addiction and prevention through the school district, aimed mostly at local youth and their parents.

That will be done with the hundreds of thousands dollars being collected from the city’s tobacco tax revenues, which are earmarked specifically for financing health and human services, tobacco-related health issues, and addiction and substance-abuse education.

According to a memo to council by Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor and the county’s Health and Human Services staff, “Mental health and substance use have long been identified as the most significant health issues facing the people who live, work and play in Pitkin County.

“High rates of suicide, mixed messages surrounding the promotion of our ‘party town,’ high rates of depression and anxiety, sleep disturbances, financial pressures, lack of psychiatric care, lack of specialized support for marginalized populations and the high cost of treatment, as well as other issues have inspired several different nonprofit and private providers to try to step up and respond. The result has been a community perception of a fragmented and uncoordinated system of care.”

csackariason@aspentimes.com


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