By Megan K. Olsen, Durango Herald
Any community member is eligible for services at no cost, thanks to a federal grant
Residents in San Juan County now have the option to receive free mental healthcare thanks to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workforce grant. The town of Silverton is taking advantage of the opportunity.
“To have this within our community is amazing,” said Silverton spokeswoman DeAnne Gallegos. “COVID definitely affected the mental health of many people in our area, so wellness checks will be a good thing.”
According to a report released by the World Health Organization earlier this year, cases of anxiety and depression increased by 25% during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. The alarming rise in mental health concerns prompted 90% of countries to some kind of action, including adding mental health and psychosocial support to their COVID-19 response plans.
This summer, the CDC announced its Strengthening U.S. Public Health Infrastructure, Workforce, and Data Systems, a funding opportunity that will provide nearly $4 billion over five years to improve critical public health infrastructure to health departments across the country. This also will help fund mental health access for American citizens through the kinds of grants given to counties like San Juan.
Part of the San Juan County grant allows residents to receive 10 free sessions with a licensed therapist. “We have very limited medical access here,” Gallegos said. “To have a licensed therapist in our community is amazing. Normally, we have to travel to Durango or to Montrose, and that usually takes an hour.”
Residents of isolated communities, like Silverton, have long had to grapple with the lack of health care services in their area. “This service will provide support to San Juan County/Silverton residents for mental health counseling and support without having to travel 100 miles round trip outside our community,” said San Juan County Public Health Director Becky Joyce in a news release.
“The most important part of this grant is getting help for our senior citizen population,” Gallegos said. “They are the most isolated here and the most vulnerable.”
Rob Roof will be one of the licensed professionals providing service to Silverton. “I’m a Colorado Licensed Professional Counselor candidate serving Silverton Public Schools and the greater Silverton community’s mental health needs since 2019,” Roof said in the release. “Getting help doesn’t have to be complicated. Call or message me!”
Contact information for Roof and Bruce E. Haring, another licensed therapist who has been providing counseling services to San Juan Country residents for 45 years, can be found on San Juan County Public Health’s Facebook page.
Services provided through San Juan County Public Health to individuals, couples, families and adolescents is completely confidential.
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