By Jody Shadduck-McNally
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment ensuring the right for women to vote, and the many contributions women have made in our society, I’m proud to be the first woman elected to serve as Larimer County Commissioner in District 3. I thank voters who have entrusted me to serve the Larimer community.
My last few months have been full since my swearing-in. My commissioner colleagues and I have been working hard to identify our shared concerns. One of my top priorities for our county is heightening awareness of behavioral health resources in our community. 2020 has made that effort all the more urgent.
The last year for many of us has been nothing short of life-changing. Reflecting on the past year, I am reminded of how we’re all in this together, navigating the same circumstances. We’ve adapted to the loss of the “normal” — and we share the hope that we will eventually return to our “new normal.” Our community also battled a historic wildfire, and many are striving to recover from that as well.
We’re all living history together with the stress of socially isolating from family and friends, disruption of learning for children, economic challenges, isolation from working remotely, or worries about vaccine access that have left an emotional toll on many of us. It’s OK not to be OK. I’m also concerned about the front-line workers, health care professionals, emergency services workers, isolated older adults, and children who this pandemic has impacted.
We need to practice kindness, patience, tolerance, hope, and compassion. The pandemic has health care professionals concerned about more than just physical health. It’s mental and behavioral health, too, by those experiencing depression and anxiety; many are impacted no matter our age, race, gender, age, or demographic.
With the 2018 Behavioral Health Initiative passage, Larimer County is leading the way by connecting residents in our county with much-needed resources. The Behavioral Health Impact Fund Grant Program was created to invest in community behavioral health services responsibly. In 2019, $1 million was distributed to community organizations through 29 grant awards, followed by another $2.5 million distributed in 2020 through 43 grant awards. In 2021, another $2.5 million is available to distribute to community organizations.
In December 2020, Larimer County held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new regional behavioral health facility approved by voters to enhance behavioral health services. While Larimer County is leading the state with the new facility and grant program, the Behavioral Health Services website dashboard https://www.larimer.org/behavioralhealth/data shows we still have work to do since drug overdoses have trended upward in the past year.
We’re living in unprecedented times, and we will recover physically, mentally, and economically. Larimer County has a proven record of working through disasters and challenges. We are on the road to recovery and will be stronger and more resilient than ever.
Jody Shadduck-McNally is a Larimer County commissioner representing all of Larimer County.