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CB Hope making headway on mental health services in valley

New partnerships and community support making impact

By Cayla Vidmar

Momentum to address suicide and mental health in Crested Butte is maintaining as we head into mid-summer. The grassroots organization, CB Hope, was formed this spring after three Crested Butte locals took their own lives in the span of a few short weeks. A partnership has been formed to make the local 24/7, 365 access crisis phone line a reality, there are ongoing trainings, and a designer is being sought for a CB Hope rack card.

“We are seeing great support and not having to reinvent the wheel,” says Nancy Osmundson, founder of CB Hope and mental health champion throughout the Gunnison Valley. A number of mental health professionals have stepped in to help Osmundson with support and direction, including Venita Curry from Mental Health Colorado, Toni Paul of the American Association of Suicidology, the Center for Mental Health and Dr. Tom Moore.

Osmundson wrote via email that CB Hope has partnered with Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners for the local phone line. She writes, “The phone line was our biggest challenge and we believe we have that nailed down with support from Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners.”

The idea of having a local, 24/7 crisis phone line came out of the first CB Hope meeting with community members, who put an emphasis on a local number. The phone line will be a “349” number, where “our local mental health providers will be available 24/7 to meet with someone, whenever it’s needed,” writes Osmundson.

The Center for Mental Health in Gunnison “will also be a partner, and has offered 24/7 telephone health support with a psychiatrist,” which will be available for psychiatric consultations, writes Osmundson.

CB Hope has been offering ongoing trainings, listed on their Facebook page (@CB Hope) and in the community calendar in the newspaper. Different trainings are offered continually, including “Safe Talk,” “Talk Saves Lives,” and the “ASIST Training,” which Osmundson says was a huge success. The two-day “ASIST Training”— Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training—focuses on recognizing when someone is experiencing a suicide crisis and how to help them create a plan of action for their immediate safety.

Osmundson is seeking a designer to put together a rack card that will display all related services in Crested Butte, including mental health professionals, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and support groups. While the Gunnison Valley offers a myriad of counselors, therapists, support groups and the like, one spot listing all this information is still lacking, hence the need for the rack card.

The community support is still strong, despite the busy summer season. Osmundson points out that one supporter, Adrienne Lorene of Crested Butte South, hosted a crawfish boil and raised $800 for CB Hope. Osmundson writes, “I would like to say a huge thank you to Adrienne for her support and hard work.”

At a meeting in late June, Bob Schutt, county commissioner candidate and physician, offered to be the medical director for CB Hope, and presented information from Summit County on the work they have done on mental health and suicide.

A National Geographic article, “Why Deaths by Suicide Are So High in Ski and Snowboard Towns,” circulated on social media after the suicides this spring. In it, the author, Kelley McMillan, cites suicide rates around the state: San Miguel County, home of Telluride, has a suicide rate six times higher than the national average, and Aspen’s suicide rate is three times the national average. “In the United States, 40,000 people a year take their lives and nowhere, aside from Alaska, is the rate of suicide higher than in the Rocky Mountains,” writes McMillan. This kind of information from other ski towns means Osmundson doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel with the CB Hope program.

Check out the CB Hope Facebook page (@CB Hope) for training information, services and meeting information. You can also reach Nancy Osmundson via email, at nosmundson@gmail.com or Facebook message via the CB Hope page.

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