Mind Springs Health: Providing a steady stream of support services to Craig residents | CraigDailyPress.com

Mind Springs Health: Providing a steady stream of support services to Craig residents

Mind Springs Health Business Service Assistant Denise Rogers and therapist Peggy Sammons stand in front of Mind Springs Health in Craig. The two are part of a small team of committed individuals who work tirelessly to ensure that Moffat County residents get the mental health care they need.

— From substance abuse to child psychiatry to mental health crises, the small but mighty team at Mind Springs Health in Craig never runs out of difficult problems to tackle, but the staff of eight seems tireless in their efforts to address the evolving mental health needs of the community they serve.

Program Director Craig Thornhill is hard to pin down, as he bounces between starting an adolescent substance abuse program, expanding the office's crisis support services, organizing and teaching mental health first aid trainings and attending to unique, individual patient needs.

“We do some out-of-the-box stuff sometimes and if that's going to improve the quality of life for one of our clients, you'll find us doing it,” Thornhill said.

On site, Mind Springs in Craig provides psychiatric services both in person and via telehealth technology to anyone who needs them. It also provides 24-hour access to a therapist in the case of a crisis.

"Regardless of ability to pay, we'll never turn people away from our doors," Thornhill said. "We are the only Medicaid-funded facility (in Craig).”

Craig is one of thirteen outpatient locations for the Western Slope-wide nonprofit organization, which has grown to serve a 23,000-square-mile area from the Continental Divide to the Utah border since it was originally founded in 1970.

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Partnerships are key in rural areas, and Mind Springs teams up with Moffat County Social Services, Moffat County School District and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, as well as other governmental, law enforcement and health agencies to ensure mental health care services reach those who need them. Providing access is a key part of Mind Springs' mission.

Last year, more than 700 people came through Mind Springs’ doors in Craig, of which more than 200 were minors, according to Thornhill.

However in his view, 700 is not enough. Nationwide, nearly one in every four adults can have a diagnosable mental illness over the course of one year, Thornhill said.

"If you take the fact that 20 to 25 percent of the Moffat County population has a diagnosable mental illness in any given year and then look at how may of them are coming in to get treatment for diagnoses, there's a huge mismatch meaning there are a lot of people out there who could benefit from services but aren't coming in," Thornhill said. "We're not reaching everybody we need to reach. And I think its going to take collective community effort and partnerships to meet the spectrum of needs this town has."

One such partnership with the VNA delivers mental health services hand-in-hand with primary care through its integrative behavioral health program. A Mind Springs Health licensed therapist works on-site with primary care providers to address mental health needs for patients when they arise.

"A lot of times a mental health issue or substance abuse issue will be presented at primary care," said VNA Community Partnerships Coordinator Janie Dunckley. "It's really a new, innovative approach that is making a lot of headway throughout the nation and throughout the state as the next best way to provide care. It's providing more of that holistic approach to a person and not just piecemealing it into physical here and mental there."

Mind Springs provides an invaluable service to the community, Dunckley said, all while working within the constraints of limited resources and personnel. And with several new programs and trainings in the works for the coming year, Thornhill shows no signs of slowing down.

"I love working here," said Mind Springs Business Services Assistant Denise Rogers, who does everything from scheduling appointments to screening crisis calls. "It's the caring, supportive staff that I work with, and the fact that it's really wonderful to see people come in at the end of their rope and realize people do care. They're able to walk out with their heads a little higher."

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com.

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