Guest column: Help is available

Linda Carlson Shaw, Allen Nelson, Jonathan Birnkrant, Peter Wiley and Craig Bushong
Guest column

As a group of physicians and a nurse practitioner, we would like to express our concerns to the community about substance abuse and other mental-health issues that too often go untreated in the Roaring Fork Valley. We are keenly aware of how mental health impacts the individual, family, neighborhood and community at large. We want to share not only our concerns and awareness of these health issues but also our interest and hope that people get the assistance that is available. As psychiatric professionals, we all want to create a better quality of life for anyone in need. There is help, and thus hope, when contact is made.

There are many mental-health resources in the valley, available now, that did not exist 10 years ago. In fact, there are more than 50 mental-health practitioners and agencies, both private and publicly funded, within our area that are available to treat a wide range of emotional-health and relationship issues as well as substance-abuse problems. See the phone-book listings under psychiatry, psychologists, counselors, psychotherapists, mental-health services and substance-abuse services, or reach out to the following resources:

• Mind Springs Health (formerly Colorado West) provides a full range of outpatient and inpatient resources as well as crisis intervention.

• Aspen Strong Foundation, at, offers a searchable listing for licensed providers and resources throughout the Roaring Fork Valley with their contact information.

• A Way Out in Aspen identifies local substance-abuse treatment for those with limited resources. This organization utilizes local providers and groups as well as facilitating referral to inpatient treatment if needed.

• The Hope Center offers crisis intervention and stabilization.

• The National Alliance for Mental Illness’ local chapter provides support and education to families and individuals from peers who themselves have gone through mental-health issues.

We speak with one voice to the people of the community. Please take stock of your emotional well-being and be aware of these resources. There is valleywide treatment for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and psychotic disorders, to name just a few of the problems impacting life and well-being. You may choose to begin looking for support and help by contacting one of the resources mentioned here. If you don’t know where to start, contact your primary-care physician for referral options.

Emotional well-being is a vital part of our overall health. No one needs to suffer with emotional distress, especially not in the Roaring Fork Valley, as resources and help are readily available. Psychiatric illness and substance abuse are treatable, and outcomes for improved emotional health are very good. Be proactive. Be interested. Be determined. Be hopeful.

Linda Shaw is a psychiatric nurse practitioner and Alan Nelson, Jonathan Birnkrant, Peter Wiley and Craig Bushong are psychiatrists in the Roaring Fork Valley.


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