The Eagle County Board of Commissioners will allocate $400,000 from the county’s Mental Health Fund toward school-based counselors in the Eagle and Roaring Fork valleys. The decision follows the unanimous recommendation of the board’s community-based Mental Health Advisory Committee.
In approving the expenditure, the commissioners heard from committee members and other partners who indicated the need for school-based counselors has been consistently identified as the number one priority for funding.
This spring, counselors at Basalt High School identified 84 of 481 students who needed therapy but were not receiving it due to financial, logistical and/or transportation challenges.
A recent survey of school counselors and leadership across public and private schools within the Eagle River Valley overwhelmingly identified counselors with mental health backgrounds as the most critical resource needed for mental health stigma reduction, prevention and care.
The proposals work to remove barriers to mental health care by providing accessible, cost-effective services on-site at school campuses. Of the total approved, $320,000 will be allocated toward mental health counselors for public and private schools in the Eagle River Valley, and $80,000 will fund a mental health counselor in the Roaring Fork Valley.
The advisory committee has recommended funding be reduced by $100,000 each year; the schools are expected to sustain the full costs in year five.
The Mental Health Fund is supported by voter-approved sales and excise taxes on recreational marijuana. In addition, the Board of Commissioners committed $500,000 earlier this year toward addressing the community’s most pressing mental health issues.
Watch the Mental Health Advisory Committee presentation to the commissioners at www.ecgtv.com.