mental health

In response to skyrocketing youth suicide rates, one rural Colorado county is now offering kids two free vouchers to see a counselor at a local mental health center. 

Last year, on a warm Saturday evening in Boise, Idaho, Timmy Earl Kinner Jr. walked into the birthday party of a family. In a random attack, he stabbed nine people, including the birthday girl Ruya Kadir. That little girl died at just three years old.


Christ Episcopal Church and Park County Library hosted panel conversations on mental health challenges in the community on November 7. Identical midday and evening panels consisted of medical experts, a school district representative and mental health support group leaders. 

A new report shows youth suicide rates have spiked alarmingly in recent years, especially in the Mountain West.

As the Mountain West continues to see a disproportionate number of youth suicides, one tribe in Southwest Colorado is opening up a new mental health center on its reservation to deal with alarming rates there. 

Image: Martin Kraft (photo.martinkraft.com) License: CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The lack of mental health care services is the most important health problem impacting the Bighorn Basin region. That's according to a recent community survey conducted by health care organizations in the area. This is the first year Powell Valley Healthcare, Cody Regional Healthcare, Heritage health Center and Park County Public health are joining forces to complete the Community Health Needs Assessment.

The Rocky Mountain region continues to face some of the highest suicide rates in the country. A recent panel of experts in Colorado addressed what they said was one of the biggest hurdles to mental health: social stigma. 

Federal Bureau of Investigation / Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee is considering addressing issues with the state's inability to share mental health information with federal government as part of compliance in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Wyoming Department of Health

The Wyoming Department of Health is asking members of the public to share their thoughts about community-based mental health and substance use disorder services. 

wyomingmedicalcenter.org

The closing of an inpatient psychiatric unit in Lander has highlighted another issue in the state's mental healthcare system. That's the difficulty of transporting a mentally ill patient to and from a hospital.

Magellan In Wyoming

The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) and Wyoming Medicaid is working to help kids with complex behavioral health challenges find local care, instead of being placed in residential psychiatric treatment.

Kamila Kudelska

At the end of February, a major inpatient psychological unit in Wyoming closed its doors. The PineRidge Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit in Lander had shut down partly due to federal regulations. This has created a domino effect and the outpatient behavioral unit will also close its doors April 5. This leaves a mentally ill population without accessible critical care in northwest Wyoming. 

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The first four-person team of American veterans rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in an effort to grow momentum on the need to increase awareness of and support for the mental and physical health of veterans. Two of those veterans are from Northwest Wyoming.

Last year the nation was shocked when a 9-year-old Colorado boy took his own life. A recent report says youth suicide is a public health crisis in Colorado and the numbers in the Mountain West as a whole are staggering, with some of the highest rates in the nation. At the same time, there’s a significant shortage of mental health professionals -- at crisis levels in some communities. Often, it’s mental health workers in schools who work on the front lines of this crisis.

Screenshot of footage gathered by KGWN Cheyenne


Last week a grand jury decided not to indict Albany County Sheriff's officer Derek Colling. In November, he shot and killed 39-year-old Laramie resident Robbie Ramirez. The jury found the officer's use of lethal force was justified. The decision hasn't convinced everyone in Laramie that the officer couldn't have made a different choice.

Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for adolescents in the country. And in the Mountain West, youth suicide rates are double, and in some cases triple, the national average. Now, a new study shows parents are often unaware that their kids are struggling.

Tennessee Watson

Last week a grand jury decided not to indict Albany County Sheriff's officer Derek Colling for shooting 39-year-old Laramie resident Robbie Ramirez in November. On Monday, Albany County Attorney Peggy Trent announced her intent to take a look at why this incident happened and if it could have been avoided.

Safe2Tell Wyoming

Wyoming's Safe2Tell program has received over 1,500 tips from students since its implementation two years ago.

Public Domain

Ranchers and farmers living in the Mountain West are vulnerable to all kinds of things—drought, fluctuating crop prices, trade wars—and in part because of those things - depression and suicide. But there's some help out there, from an unlikely source.


In the Mountain West, we love our rivers, our mountains, our forests, deserts and wildlife. They’re part of our economies, our lifestyles and our identity. But that very connection makes us vulnerable to a growing mental health problem -- climate anxiety.

Our region has an especially high rate of suicide. Now Colorado is taking a unique approach to deal with it, at least for kids. Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, just allocated $2.8 million for a state-wide pediatric mental health initiative.

A nine-year-old boy in Colorado took his own life on the first week of school this year. The tragedy highlighted a pervasive problem in the state and in the Mountain West region as a whole -- the high suicide rate -- especially among youth. Goal Academy in Pueblo, Colorado is a charter program with high schools around the state that focuses on both academic and mental wellbeing.   

Images from WDE. Layout by Tennessee Watson

Before kids go back to school, state officials and educators will gather in Cheyenne to discuss how to make schools safer. The Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) is hosting a School Safety Summit on August 8.

A school classroom with desks and a chalkboard
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When school shootings occur, the country collectively asks: what needs to happen to keep students safe? What does it take to identify students who are struggling and get them support? Wyoming Public Radio’s education reporter Tennessee Watson sat down with University of Wyoming Professor of Counseling's Mary Alice Bruce and graduate student Ken Hilton to talk about how school counselors fit into the conversation about safe schools.

Carissa Rogers / Flickr Creative Commons

More teen suicide threats than average have been reported to the emergency room in Teton County. Normally, there’s only a couple a year, but recently that number rose to 16 in a four-month period.

Previously, the hospital didn’t have an ideal space to handle such cases. It required kids to be held under guard for 24 hours and doctors and nurses weren't equipped to offer therapy.

By ProgWork1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this fall, the University of Wyoming sent emails to law school students with concerns about the 37-year-old man who shot at police officers in Highlands Ranch, Colorado on Sunday morning.  

Matthew Riehl was a UW Law School graduate who at one time practiced law in Wyoming, and a veteran who served in Iraq. Matthew Riehl had been posting threatening and irrational statements about law school faculty, according to UW Police Chief Mike Samp.

Albany Community Health Clinic

Healthcare providers in Laramie say they’re seeing an increase in addiction. In response, the Albany Community Health Clinic -- which serves patients regardless of their ability to pay -- is adding mental health and substance abuse services to the comprehensive primary-care it offers. With a grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the clinic is now able to hire additional mental health providers.

 

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Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley said in his first 30 years in law enforcement he encountered heroin only twice, but now illicit drugs -- including meth and cocaine -- are something his department deals with all the time.

 

For those individuals struggling with addiction who end up in the Albany County Detention Center, the immediate shift to sobriety can bring on intense physical and emotional stress, according to O’Malley. That’s why he wants to start offering inmates acupuncture to relieve the side effects of withdrawal.

From CollegeDegrees360 on Flickr.com

Wyoming will participate in a national initiative designed to improve how schools respond to the social and emotional needs of K-12 students. The state is one of nine awarded this opportunity, and Teton County will be the first district to participate.

Tennessee Watson

In the library of Sunflower Elementary school on Gillette’s southwest side, Dr. William Heineke is hard at work as a psychologist. He’s putting on two hats, with shorts over his pants, mismatched shoes, and instead of a pen, he tucks a toothbrush into his lapel. The Mardi Gras mask he’s putting on followed by his eye glasses might be deceiving, but this wild outfit is part of a serious effort to help troubled elementary school kids. They’ve been diagnosed with things like anxiety, depression, anger issues and are at risk for suicide.  

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