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Local group established to help public find mental services they may need


Angilina Taylor, executive director of HeadQuarters, talks during a panel discussion as part of Community Health Day on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at the Aspen Recreation Center.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Like most mountain communities, the Roaring Fork Valley has immense needs in the mental health arena. Local leaders believe the resources are available but not always known about by the public — a misconception they hope to fix.

With this, the Behavioral Health Leadership Group was created.

“The idea of the group really came from the fact we are doing so much, and yet, community members still think no one is doing anything,” said Lindsey Lupow, program director for HeadQuarters. “There are so many non-profits here, so we are always dying to get that money to make sure our organization is still there. And really the goal of this Behavioral Health Leadership Group is to be like a bucket that can fund all of the organizations when they need it.”



The Basalt-based not-for-profit HeadQuarters, which until a major rebranding effort last summer went by Aspen Strong, is at the center of this new leadership group. It seeks to unite many of the local organizations that operate in the realm of mental health — including the Aspen Hope Center, Mind Springs Health, and FocusedKids, among others — in a way that better gets available resources to those in need, no matter their stage. Local law enforcement and local governments are also involved.

“As a member of that group, I can say we’ve had some really amazing discussions so far,” said Erik DaRosa, a local mental health speaker and author known for his “From Survivor to Thriver” podcast. “It’s been really great to see all the different organizations within the valley starting to come together to create one common message, with one common purpose.”



From left, Kayla Bailey of Mind Springs Health, Amanda Petersen of FocusedKids, and Angilina Taylor of HeadQuarters talk during a panel discussion as part of Community Health Day on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at the Aspen Recreation Center.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

DaRosa served as moderator for a small panel discussion on Saturday titled “Mental Health and Well-Being: A Community Effort” as part of Community Health Day inside the Aspen Recreation Center. The primary topic was this new leadership group and how coming together as a singular voice can better help support the greater mental health needs of this valley.

Each of the organizations involved has its own focus, from prevention to active crisis management, and the leadership group seeks to streamline the system for patients. It’s an idea the group has called its “well-being continuum” process.

“We think about the well-being continuum as this idea of taking a personal look at where you are in your life and what it is you are needing,” said Amanda Petersen, executive director of FocusedKids, which focuses on mental health and brain growth among children. “Maybe you are already in a good space, but there are pieces that are missing.”

Amanda Petersen, executive director of FocusedKids, talks during a panel discussion as part of Community Health Day on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at the Aspen Recreation Center.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The leadership group is in its infancy and many questions remain about its infrastructure, but they hope it’s the start of making sure the community understands the abundance of mental-health resources that are available in the valley.

“We have all learned that none of us can do this alone,” said Kayla Bailey, Aspen outpatient program director for Mind Springs, during the panel discussion. “There is enough struggle in this valley that all of us need to be present to support our community if we are ever going to get through this. And I’m grateful for all these agencies because we all serve different populations and do different things.”

Kayla Bailey, the Aspen outpatient program director for Mind Springs Health, talks during a panel discussion as part of Community Health Day on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at the Aspen Recreation Center.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

HeadQuarters brings in big grant

HeadQuarters, which is serving as the main hub for the new leadership group, was the recent recipient of a $65,000 grant from the City of Aspen to put toward its Mental Health Fund. The community fund is meant to provide free therapy sessions for patients who can’t afford to pay themselves.

“We rarely have turned anyone away from the Mental Health Fund. The only reason we won’t fund a case is if we just don’t have the money,” said Angilina Taylor, executive director of HeadQuarters. “Why are people not getting connected into the resources they need? And how can we come together to create a common language? (We need) more visibility to everything that we are doing, so that the conversation shifts.”

She said HeadQuarters awarded around $78,000 in scholarships from the fund last year, equating to roughly 744 therapy sessions. She said this still pales in comparison to the millions of dollars some organizations have at their disposal, but the recent grant will allow them to help even more people this year.

Of the $65,000, the Mental Health Fund will get $50,000 to go toward patients, with the rest going equally toward marketing, administration costs, and to the betterment or improvement of the fund.

People peruse the various booths during Community Health Day on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at the Aspen Recreation Center.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Lupow said Mayor Torre was a major proponent of getting the grant for HeadQuarters.

“Cost is the biggest barrier. It’s the biggest barrier for all of us. I’m in mental health, and I can’t afford to go to therapy as much as I would want to. It’s not like having a gym membership, and you pay $129 a month, and you can go as much as you need,” she said. “Really, Torre was huge in making it happen that we got a larger fund, so we can start putting it out to the community and make more community members aware that there is a fund that helps you, so you don’t have to think, ‘I can’t afford it, I can’t get therapy.’”

For more on HeadQuarters or to inquire about the new leadership group, visit headq.org.

acolbert@aspentimes.com





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