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Colorado’s Mountain Communities Have Long Dealt With a Mental Health Crisis. Summit County Leaders Hope a New Film Will Bring More Awareness.

Mental Health Crisis
Liz Copan/Summit Daily News archive

“The Paradise Paradox,” set to be screened in Silverthorne, spotlights the mental health crisis in Colorado’s High Country along with innovative solutions.

Colorado’s High Country is, for many, the definition of paradise. Yet its picturesque landscapes and world-renowned outdoor recreation can be overshadowed by the high cost of living, limited community resources, and, at times, drug and alcohol addiction fueled by party culture. The high cost of living makes it difficult for these areas to hire and retain mental health professionals. And with smaller populations, program enrollments often ebb and flow, making it difficult to sustain services such as intensive patient care.

Yet there has also been progress made in recent years to close these gaps, some of which “The Paradise Paradox” highlights. One of those was a massive financial investment into mental health services by Vail Health, a nonprofit operating in Eagle and Summit counties that in 2018 committed $60 million over the next 10 years to expand behavioral health services to help deal with the mental health crisis.

While much of Vail Health’s focus has been on efforts in Eagle, such as building a 50,000-square-foot behavioral health facility set to open in 2025, it’s also made moves in Summit. Most recent was an announcement from its subsidiary, Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, that it would be adding mental and behavioral health services in Summit after the county government designated it as the county’s community mental health center earlier this year.

“The Paradise Paradox” is produced by Olympic ski racer Bode Miller and Emmy Award-winning impact sports filmmaker Brett Rapkin. Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Silverthorne Pavilion on Jan. 20. The screening begins at 7 p.m. It will also include a panel discussion with community leaders and mental health professionals about the mental health crisis and solutions. The event is free to the public.

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