Reaching awareness in the Roaring Fork Valley


Photo courtesy of Georgina Levey

The flyer that was given out to promote attending the Mental Hygiene conference.

On Feb. 12, a Mental Hygiene conference was hosted at the Inn at Aspen to discuss youth anxiety, depression, and suicide rates in the Roaring Fork Valley. The goal of this conference was to prompt a discussion over youth mental health and to address the issues facing the youth in Roaring Fork Valley.

The term “Mental Hygiene” can seem unusual, however, it has a deeply rooted meaning. According to the executive director of Aspen Strong, MJ Faas, “We want to promote the monitoring of mental hygiene in a similar way to how we brush teeth to promote dental hygiene.” Meaning that conversations around the topic of mental health do not only have the power to address issues within mental health, but they also can focus on prevention by teaching skills that help people recognize the signs of distress early on.

At the Mental Hygiene conference, the turnout was much higher than expected. One of the people responsible for putting this conference together, Georgina Levey, thought that the turnout was incredible.

“I was amazed by how many people came to the event that I did not know. Levey said. 20 plus mental health providers and organizations were represented, along with parents and relatives of local suicide victims, concerned other parents, and other community members ranging in age from 16-75 years.”

All of the health providers, organizations, and residents in the valley who attended the Mental Hygiene conference helped to educate and contributed to the conversation surrounding mental health. Those attending the conference were able to learn about the numerous services and mental providers up and down the valley, the funding options that go with these services, and what routes people can take for services and affordable funding.

Michelle Skagen, an attendee of the conference, got to view all of the options available in this valley, as well as hear about the youth’s situations in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“I learned that there are many youth and young adults who are suffering from mental illnesses at varying degrees throughout our valley and that our young people need a lot more support,” Skagen said.

There are various resources in the Roaring Fork Valley, but the connection between the youth and support has not been fully bridged. Conferences like these normalize seeking help options and prompt discussions around mental health. In communities such as this one, discussions will help build that bridge and connect youth to support.

Laura Segura, another person who attended the conference, benefited from the conference and now has trust within the community’s effort.

“I now know my community cares for our young people’s issues and that money is not a problem when the community’s health is on the table. We are part of the change, and we are getting together to make the change strong,” Segura remarked.