New program offers mental health services for Boulder County wildfire victims

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BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — A new program in Boulder County will offer mental health services for individuals and families seeking crisis support following the two wildfires that burned nearly 11,000 acres last fall. 

Boulder County Community Services, Community Foundation Boulder County and Jewish Family Service are launching the Wildfire Mental Health Program (WMHP) to assist those impacted by the Cal-Wood and Lefthand Canyon wildfires. The fires forced thousands of Boulder County residents to evacuate and destroyed dozens of homes.

The program offers up to $500 toward five individual therapy sessions or up to $875 toward five family therapy sessions and provides more than 70 licensed providers to choose from.

Lisa Moreno, vice president of programs for Community Foundation Boulder County, says the WMHP provides long-term support for those affected by fires.

“We know that these things can impact people at different lengths of time after a disaster or there are just different stresses that become additive and stacking,” Moreno said.

All providers are local Boulder County residents with a variety of specialties. 

“We’ve had an amazing response from the community in that way,” said Kammie Siemens, director of Jewish Family Service in Boulder.

Brian DeToy and Sheryl Shafer understand the importance of mental health resources after losing what they describe as their “dream home” in the fast-moving Cal-Wood fire.

“It still impacts me more on a daily basis than I think it does Brian. I get triggered more about the loss,” said Shafer.

The couple decided to seek help from a therapist soon after their home was destroyed.

“Just to make sure that we process this devastation in the best way possible and to ensure that it didn’t create a wedge, knowing that we would process differently,” said Shafer.

Shafer and DeToy are nearing the end of their therapy sessions but say there’s a possibility they may need to return in the future as the grieving process changes.

“This is a long process and it’s a world that we need help getting through. You can’t do it alone,” said DeToy.

Anyone who lives in Boulder County and is fire-impacted is eligible for the program. Services will be offered through Feb. 2022.

Those seeking services can register online.

Providers can register for the program here.

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