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May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and with it came a need to
bring awareness regarding what a community mental health center
provides. Craig Mental Health is and has been the community mental
health center in Moffat County for more than 20 years. This agency
is a branch of Colorado West Regional Mental Health Center (CW), a
private not-for-profit corporation. We are neither a state nor
federal agency. Funding for the corporation comes in the form of
Medicaid (49 percent); state contracts (18 percent) and client fees
(12.5 percent). As the community mental health center CW must offer
a sliding fee scale. This means discounting our full fee for
service by as much as 75 percent in some cases. Donated services is
the amount of service we provide to the people in our service area
at less than full fee. In fiscal year 2000, Colorado West's total
donated services were $41,606,491. Locally, Craig Mental Health
donated $82,297 or 77 percent of client revenues to the Craig
community. Community mental health centers are required to provide
mental health treatment to consumers meeting "targeted" criteria,
in all ages. In effect, people who have been diagnosed with one of
the major mental illnesses i.e.: major depression, schizophrenia,
anxiety disorder, etc., must be provided treatment regardless of
ability to pay. In fiscal year 2000, Craig Mental Health treated
557 consumers, of those, 217 were diagnosed with a serious mental
illness, 245 had other mental health issues and 96 were treated for
substance abuse problems. Thus 32 percent of the clients receiving
treatment met the criteria to receive treatment whether they could
pay for services or not. However, of the remaining client base only
about 25 percent had the ability to pay the full fee or had
commercial insurance. This leaves somewhere close to 200 clients
who sought mental health or substance abuse treatment but lacked
the resources to pay the full fees for that treatment. Because it
is our belief that untreated mental illness can exacerbate and lead
to life crisis, we try to provide treatment even to the working
poor of the community who do not meet criteria for state subsidy.
This is when we look to the Craig and Moffat community for help. We
seek funding from United Way, Moffat County and the city of Craig.
We work in close partnership with the Department of Social Services
to find funds to help families in crisis obtain treatment. We are
finding, though, that these revenues are slowly, but steadily
drying up.. The funding we receive from the Craig community has
been reduced this year to a total of $8,000, which is in sharp
contrast to the $15,000 we received in fiscal year 1998. Decreased
finding has come at a time when we are seeing an increase in the
severity of mental illness symptoms. To shed light on how this
impacts the community at large consider these this: When your
neighbor or loved one faces some traumatic life event such as
losing a job, a break up in a relationship, or finds they have a
serious physical illness, these things can cause the onset of a
mental illness such as depression. Then suppose that the person
does not have the resources to pay for treatment. The symptoms of
depression may be ignored until the ability to function in everyday
life is impaired. This in turn impacts the functioning of the
family as well as the community. As the symptoms worsen, there is a
likelihood of suicidal thinking, which can lead to more serious
problems. Should some member of our community actually make an
attempt at suicide a variety of agencies become involved to include
law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, crisis team and
mental health. This drains community resources not to mention the
terrible emotional toll it takes on those involved with the
attempt. The provision of emergency services is another requirement
of the funding CW receives from the state. We are mandated to
evaluate for suicidality, homicidality and grave disability due to
mental illness. In fiscal year 2000 of the 335 emergency calls we
responded to only 26 met the state mandate. Meaning 26 people were
involuntarily hospitalized due to mental illness. Ninety-three
people seen for emergency services were not clients of the mental
health center, but members of the community who were suffering some
type of emotional/mental distress. Again, in fulfilling our mission
of providing mental health and substance abuse services to enhance
the ability of individuals, families and communities to improve the
quality of their lives we attempt to be available in emergency
situations. However, as funding decreases we find ourselves in the
difficult dilemma of having to choose to which emergencies we can
afford to respond. As we move through the month of May and our
awareness of mental health is heightened we seek assistance from
the Craig community in helping us to identify ways in which we can
obtain the revenues needed to support the on-going mental health
treatment needs of this community. If you are interested in being
involved with your local community mental health center we have a
Local Advisory Council which helps guide us in the delivery of
services. Please contact Barb Seed at 824-6541 for more
information.

Stories this photo appears in:

Mental Health offers variety of services on limited funding

May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and with it came a need to bring awareness regarding what a community mental health center provides.

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