By: Andrew Romanoff

October 12, 2018

Suppose you just landed on earth.

You go looking for the most beautiful place on the planet, so you come to Colorado. But amid the majesty of the mountains, you find people dying by suicide — more than 1,000 each year. Thousands more are sleeping on the streets or languishing in prison cells.

Here in Summit County, the suicide rate is three times the national average. Adults in the county have the highest rate of binge drinking in Colorado.

We can be shocked by these statistics or we can change them. The good news: Summit County has a chance to change.

Measure 1A would invest $2 million per year over the next 10 years in the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. That means putting more mental health professionals in schools, delivering intensive services to treat drug and alcohol addiction, offering support for individuals with serious mental illness, providing specialized therapy for those at risk of suicide and enabling mental health professionals to accompany law enforcement officers as co-responders.

Mental health care is a worthwhile investment — yielding a four-to-one return in improved health and productivity, according to the World Health Organization. Such care can spell the difference between life and death.

That’s why 1A matters, not only to the Summit County residents who face a mental health or substance use disorder but to all of us. This cause touches every family on earth.

Andrew Romanoff

President and CEO of Mental Health Colorado

Originally appeared in the Summit Daily.