CNCC student presentations ask for better access to mental health, increased support for Drug Take Back days |

CNCC student presentations ask for better access to mental health, increased support for Drug Take Back days

CNCC Students front left, Matthew Strong, Kadin Hume, Taelee Knez, Daniela Yanez, Reagan Hafey, center, Maria Sanchez, Grace Baker, Diana Arrellano, and Haely Mendoza, gather at the Craig campus library to present their Community Needs Projects.
Amber Delay/Craig Press

An English class at Colorado Northwestern Community College has spent part of the semester teaming up to research complex community issues, and students presented their findings this week. 

For the Community Needs Project, Mary Reid’s English class started off by researching different topics of their choice and then split into groups to complete a service-learning project. 

The topics that bubbled to the surface for the class were mental health and substance abuse, and the group hosted a presentation on Monday, Nov. 28, at at the CNCC campus in Craig to share their research and recommendations. 

CNCC President Lisa Jones and the college cabinet attended the presentations via zoom to listen to the students’ findings and recommendations for actions that could be taken on campus to combat these issues. 

One student group focused on how to improve mental health support and services at CNCC, and the other focused on local efforts to decrease the amount of prescription drugs in the community in order to decrease opioid addiction. 

The students found that while there are a number of mental health resources available for students at the Craig campus, they were either not advertised widely or were difficult to find. 

According to the presentation, CNCC offers mental health resources for students at both the Craig and Rangely campuses using a third party virtual provider. 

Diana Arrellano, a student presenter, reported that it took the group two weeks of calls and emails to locate the appropriate staff member at the Rangeley campus who could assist with making a mental health appointment. Arrellano said that most staff members the group contacted didn’t know the program existed or didn’t know how students could access the services. 

These mental health supports are funded in part through student fees, which include a $2.54 mental health services fee for Rangely students but not Craig. The group discussed implementing the mental health fee for Craig students if it would help provide better access to services and prosocial extracurricular activities. 

Jones said that college officials would take the presentations into consideration and asked that the students continue to provide feedback as CNCC makes decisions regarding mental health and additional student activities. 

Taelee Knez, a student who worked on the substance abuse prevention project, said she decided to tackle this issue because it’s a prevalent problem in the community that could affect anyone. 

“It’s an issue in the community that people aren’t really aware of,” Knez said. “We wanted to help bring it to light.”

Kadin Hume, another student who also worked with the opioid abuse prevention group, said his biggest takeaway was that even a small group of people and a small amount of time could have a larger impact in the community. 

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Drug and Drug Enforcement Administration, the students looked at opioid abuse issues on a state and federal level to better understand the problem locally. 

The students found that one of the measures that has had a significant impact on reducing access to opioids are the Drug Take Back Days, which are held in partnership with the DEA and local law enforcement agencies. Across the country, Take Back events are held twice a year, where community members can drop off unused prescriptions to be disposed of safely. 

Hume said the events, which began in 2010, had a steady increase in the number of drugs collected until 2020 when the pandemic created a decline in collection numbers. The group felt that efforts to support the Take Back events could have the largest impact on reducing opioid abuse in the community.

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