There’s hope for depression
SUMMIT COUNTY – Depression makes everyday tasks difficult, so when it comes to seeking professional help, just finding the right mental health-care provider can seem like an overwhelming task.But the C.A.R.E. Network of Summit County now makes accessing treatment easier. The network facilitates the process for mental health-care providers to work together so residents can find the best practitioners to treat them.It also provides a Web site and hotline for residents to call with questions about treatment providers and funding.With its database, the network helps private mental health practitioners refer patients to community programs that offer sliding scale fees and other services.The database also allows community health-care practitioners to refer patients to private practitioners who have specialized training in a specific illness.”This is a really exciting time in Summit County now, where there is countywide interest in accessing and meeting the needs of citizens in Summit County,” said Barbara Leffler, licensed psychologist. For example, if Leffler sees a need for a women’s support group within her private clients, she could collaborate with Colorado West to start the group and open it to even more women.The networking effort began in 2001, when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment awarded funds for a prevention pilot project to improve health and human services in Summit County.A cross-section of 40 local educators, law enforcers, social service employees and nonprofits met and realized some providers duplicate services, while other needs are left unmet, said Susan Robertson of the C.A.R.E. Network.Another major problem Summit County faced was the lack of a central information center.As a result of the planning process, this year the C.A.R.E. Network created an online directory of health and human services, and is developing a communitywide plan to address mental health services. It is also developing a report to track the status of the health of Summit County’s youth.”We’ve heard over and over again that health and human services professionals need to work together, but no one was providing a mechanism to do that,” Robertson said. “In the mental health realm, the C.A.R.E. Network’s role is to help providers facilitate the process to develop a comprehensive mental health program.”Colorado West Mental Health has taken steps to collaborate with other mental health professionals by accepting Leffler onto its advisory council. It’s the first time a private practitioner has served as chair of the advisory council.”Having Barbara on the council is crucial to get private practitioners interested in collaboration,” said Jennifer Silva-Gurule, a licensed clinical social worker at Colorado West. “Our overall goal is so clients who have mental health needs find it more user-friendly to get treatment. It helps centralize services.”Whatever the mental health problem, there is a solution, Leffler said. “Early recognition and appropriate treatment is important in decreasing the serious impact depression can have on one’s life,” she said.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at email@example.com.
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