Mental-health issues prevalent in Aspen, Roaring Fork Valley
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but mental health is an issue always facing the Roaring Fork Valley.
According to Aspen School District interim Superintendent Tom Heald in an article by The Aspen Times, “Studies are showing that by sixth grade, 1 in 4 students suffer from depression or anxiety issues.” This number doesn’t decrease much as students become adults. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that one in five adults live with a mental illness. Pitkin County has made huge strides in helping people cope with these illnesses through cutting response times in mental health crises drastically and providing funding for services.
But is this enough? In 2017, Pitkin Country reported a suicide rate of 18.6 per 100,000 people, a rate higher than the national average. There seems to be a disconnect here — we have fantastic mental-health services, but people do not seek treatment and resort to drastic measures more than the rest of the U.S. The valley may be a paradise, but that doesn’t mean that real-world issues, like mental health, don’t exist.
As a community, it is up to us to come together and combat this stigma preventing people from sharing about and asking for help with mental health. We must allow those struggling to feel comfortable enough to speak out and ask for help. Mental health struggles are something everyone has; why can’t we be open about it?
Support Local Journalism
Please join us at 4 p.m. Monday, May 18; 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 19; and 4 p.m. Thursday, May 21, for the online mental health series “For Your Mind, Online.” Mental health professionals from all over the valley will be presenting on subjects from anxiety to grief and answering the community’s questions. More information can be found at https://www.aspenk12.net/Domain/10. Let’s talk about mental health, together.
Emily Kinney, Hannah Yeary and Jack Blocker
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