Ross Brooks is CEO of Mountain Family Health Centers.

By Ross Brooks, Chief Executive Officer

Eagle County voters are being asked to vote on ballot issue 1A to support behavioral health services throughout the county. Mountain Family Health Centers and I are asking you to vote yes on this important initiative.

Behavioral health, including mental health and substance use disorders, has been ranked among the top health issues in our region for decades. This includes the soon to be released Eagle, Garfield, Pitkin Public Health improvement Plan. Our entire region is designated as a Health Professional Shortage Area for Mental Health by the federal Health Resources Services Agency (HRSA).

Funding for behavioral health services is woefully inadequate to meet the high needs in our region. This tax on the sale and production of recreational marijuana will provide revenues in excess of $1 million annually for the provision of the mental health services so desperately needed in our communities.

Mountain Family Health Centers is the region’s Federally Qualified Health Center. We provide high quality, affordable, integrated primary medical, dental and behavioral health care to the more than 18,500 persons in the region who call Mountain Family their health care home.

It has been widely shown that integrating behavioral health care into medical care settings increases access to the diagnosis and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders and improves health outcomes.

In partnership with Eagle County, Mountain Family will open a new state-of-the-art integrated health center in Edwards in 2019. This new space will allow us to increase our number of behavioral health providers and counseling rooms to increase access to behavioral health services for Eagle County residents. We are doing the same in Basalt, in partnership with Pitkin County and Aspen Valley Hospital.

Revenues from the new recreational marijuana tax will ensure there is funding for Mountain Family and other behavioral health providers such as Mind Springs Health to provide a continuum of mental health and substance use disorders services from prevention to treatment to recovery and beyond in Eagle County.

Voting Yes on ballot issue 1A will ensure access to behavioral health services for our family and friends in Eagle County. I urge you to vote Yes on 1A.