As part of its annual Longevity Project, the Post Independent is embarking on an enterprise series titled “Striking a Conversation: Mental Health for All Ages.”
The goal is to not just look at problems affecting our communities, but discuss possible solutions.
Last year’s Longevity Project examined issues associated with the aging demographic in Garfield County, life expectancy rates and how to stay active and productive after retirement.
This year, the project is diving into the broader issue of mental health across the age spectrum as a cornerstone of living a long, productive life.
“Throughout conversations in the past year, mental health keeps coming up as an issue,” Post Independent Publisher Jerry Raehal said. “From rising suicide rates to homelessness, to how we treat each other at work and at home, mental health is a topic that is often overlooked as stigmatized.”
An increase in the number of suicides in Garfield County has been a growing concern for many years; even more so in the past year as the upward trend continues.
Garfield County public health officials were alarmed last summer when there was a sudden spike of six suicide deaths in July alone.
According to Mason Hohstadt, who chairs the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Garfield County, by the conclusion of 2018 the county coroner’s office had investigated 19 suicide deaths.
Suicide Crisis and Mental Health Help Resources
Hope Center crisis line: 970-925-5858
Mind Springs crisis line: 844-493-8255
Aspenstrong.org: mental health services
Mantherapy.org: For men only
Colorado Crisis Services: 844-493-8255 or text TALK to 38255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
2019 Longevity Project Events
Part of the Longevity project is a series of micro-events starting August 20 that will culminate on Sept. 17 with our main event featuring speaker and humorist Frank King, who also goes by the name, “the mental health comedian.”
August 20 – Issues Facing Young Children
August 27 – Topic TBD
September 3 – Topic TBD
September 10 – Topic TBD
Location: Glenwood Library upstairs breakout room.
Time: 5:30PM to 7:00PM.
September 17, doors open at 5PM
Local panel speakers at 6PM
Keynote speaker, Frank King at 7PM
Buy tickets for the main event here
About Frank King
Frank King, aka The Mental Health Comedian, is a Suicide Prevention and Post-vention Public Speaker and Trainer who turned a lifelong battle with depression into a keynote worth spreading. After writing for the Tonight Show for 20-plus years and performing corporate comedy, Frank’s attention…His mission is to end the stigma surrounding mental health by sharing his insights with anyone and everyone who will listen in an effort to “start the conversation.” Frank has thought about killing himself more times than he can count. Like many of us, depression and suicide run in his family. He addresses his own trials and tribulations using a tool people from all walks of life can relate to, humor. With his TED Talk A Matter of Life or Death” he openly addresses topics considered taboo in today’s society.
All ticket sales to King’s event will be donated to nonprofits focused on mental health or abuse issues in Garfield County.
2019 Longevity Project Stories
Longevity Part I: Breaking down early childhood bullying
During the course of her 20-year career as an educator, Audrey Hazleton has had plenty of difficult phone calls with parents.
“It’s just as hard to get a phone call that your child has hurt someone as it is that your child has been hurt,” said Hazleton, the Glenwood Springs Elementary School principal. “In fact, it might be even harder to get the call that your child hurt somebody.
“It’s really hard to hear that your child hasn’t been kind to another child. It goes really deep.”
At the elementary school level, professionals like Hazleton find themselves explaining to parents the difference between a child acting “mean” and one who is participating in full-fledged bullying.
“That’s really important in parent education is helping parents understand the difference, so that we can help parents help their kids,” Hazleton said.
Mental health professionals speak to adverse effects of too much screen time
Mental health care professionals cannot stress enough the importance of limiting the amount of time children spend staring at electronic device screens.
“It has a profound impact,” Mountain Family Health Centers marriage and family therapist and addiction counselor Oyen Hoffman said. “There is a whole part of their brain that will not develop if they have too much screen time.”
According to Hoffman, the creative part of a child’s brain suffers dramatically from too much time spent on tablets, watching TV and playing video games. Specifically, in young children between the ages of 3 and 12, too much screen time can equate to a child’s inability to self soothe, problem solve and deal with boredom.
Suicide Rates in Garfield County
Since 2015 in Garfield County, 58 people died by suicide, according to Garfield County Public Health. Additionally, 27 percent of those 58 people suffered from anxiety, 47 percent were diagnosed with depression, and half told someone they were considering suicide.
Seeking professional help
Mountain Family Health’s Oyen Hoffman explains how behavioral help professionals can assist in a moment of crisis, and what that first session looks like.
Teens: A clear head is a cool head
Roaring Fork School District prevention specialist Sonja Linman talks about substance abuse among teens and building a culture focused on wellness instead of drinking.
Anxiety and Depression in Children
Oyen Hoffman of Mountain Family Health Centers talks about the symptoms of anxiety and depression in children.