Rural communities the focus for Mental Health Month in Colorado

DENVER -- Gov. Jared Polis proclaimed May to be Mental Health Month in Colorado. This year, the focus is on access to treatment in rural communities. At the proclamation ceremony, a young woman named Maggie Hanna shared her family's very emotional story.

Hanna's father was Kirk Hanna. He was a third-generation rancher in Hanover, Colorado. He worked hard and rose to leadership positions. However, he faced some challenges.

"Family and community had come to rely on him," Maggie told a crowd at the Capitol. "At 43, facing a down cattle market, family challenges, an immense development pressure on the family ranch, six days before Christmas, he took his life."

He left behind a wife, two daughters ages 7 and 9, and a family ranch with an uncertain future.

Over the years, Maggie has realized there were others struggling and needing help.

"I think there are particular challenges for rural communities," she said. "The ability to talk openly about suicide is something that is new to our environments, but I think we've made great strides."

Some state leaders agree that there are challenges for rural Colorado.

"Those challenges include workforce, the stigma of asking for help and asking for professional services, the geographic isolation and sustainability," said Frank Cornelia with Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council. The group is working on solutions with a newly created Behavioral Health Task Force.

Wednesday, Mental Health Colorado and Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health announced a new website with mental health resources.

Suicide resources:

If you or anyone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression, the following resources are available:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255): Speak with someone who will provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To learn how to help someone in crisis, call the same number.

Colorado Crisis Services Hotline (1-844-493-8255): If you are in crisis or need help dealing with one, call 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255 to speak to a trained professional. When calling Colorado Crisis Services, you will be connected to a crisis counselor or trained professional with a master’s or doctoral degree.

The Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386): A 24/7 resource for LGBT youth struggling with a crisis or suicidal thoughts. The line is staffed by trained counselors.

Colorado Crisis Services Walk-In Locations: Walk-in crisis service centers are open 24/7, and offer confidential, in-person crisis support, information and referrals to anyone in need.

Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: (1-844-264-5437): The best resource for readers to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

The number serves as a direct, immediate and efficient route to all of Colorado’s 64 counties and two tribal nations, which are responsible for accepting and responding to child abuse and neglect concerns. All callers are able to speak with a call taker 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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