In the wake of mountain towns across the west being labeled as part of the “suicide belt” coupled with a 360% rise in local emergency room visits for anxiety and depression since 2013, Eagle County reached a tipping point in 2017 when the suicide rate jumped from six to sixteen lives in just one year. It was time for the community as a whole to address the behavioral health crisis.
In September of 2017 commissioners called for ballot issue 1A asking voters to authorize a new sales tax and a new excise tax of up to 5% each on recreational marijuana, for the purpose of funding mental health and substance abuse services. In November of that year ballot issue 1A won in a landslide with more than 73% of voters. It was clear that Eagle County voted to save lives. In April 2019 Vail Health and community partners joined forces and committed $60 million to transform behavioral health services.
To align the needs of the county and manage a plan for funding, accountability and fundraising, a backbone organization was essential. Eagle Valley Behavioral Health was established to lead the community collaboration ensuring access to superior behavioral health services for everyone in Vail to Dotsero also known as the Eagle River Valley.
Eagle Valley Behavioral Health has partnered with over 25 local organizations including valley businesses, community groups, mental health providers, school district, government entities, first responders and communicators to collaborate on behavioral health initiatives and provide the critical change needed to ensure a long-term vision for a robust, sustainable behavioral health system with the goal of creating resilience in our community and increasing overall well being.