The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery recently opened a new exhibit called “Mental Health: Mind Matters“ to bring awareness to the topic of mental illness and address some of the stigmas around it.
According to Laurie Stolen, the director of Behavioral Health Services with Larimer County, Larimer County Behavioral Health Services has a partnership with the museum and is one of the main sponsors for the exhibit. The exhibit has interactive, hands-on activities surrounding mental health and will be open Sept. 25 to Jan. 2, 2022.
Stolen said if you’re just learning about mental health or even if you’re an expert, this exhibit provides something for everyone in reducing the stigma and increasing the awareness in behavioral health.
We have felt like it’s been an amazing opportunity for people to increase their awareness and education around the topic of mental health in a really safe and approachable environment.” – Laurie Stolen, director of Behavioral Health Services with Larimer County
“Every year, one in five residents in Larimer County struggles with mental illness,” The Larimer County website states.
This is not the first time the traveling exhibition has been in Fort Collins. It was originally at the Museum of Discovery in September 2020 through January 2021, according to Stolen.
“They didn’t get the audience that they intended because of COVID(-19) and the restrictions and people staying at home,” Stolen said.
The traveling exhibition was originally produced by Heureka and the Finnish Science Centre and also brought to the Science Museum of Minnesota.
When the exhibit originally hit Fort Collins, Larimer County Behavioral Health Services provided a $250,000 grant to the museum.
“We were fortunate enough to be able to partner with them again to bring it back for a second run,” Stolen said. “We have felt like it’s been an amazing opportunity for people to increase their awareness and education around the topic of mental health in a really safe and approachable environment.”
According to the Larimer County Behavioral Health Services data, 25.2% of people from ages 18-34 who answered the survey confirmed they have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. That same age group answered 29.5% have been diagnosed with depression.
The Behavioral Health Services department is the result of a sales tax ballot initiative that was passed in 2018, according to Stolen.
The Behavioral Health Services department has the Bridge Fund and the Impact Fund Grants that help serve the behavioral health needs of the larger community.
The Impact Fund is how the department is able to provide grants to programs to help the community. According to their website, in 2021, there were 38 grants awarded, and the total amount was $2.53 million.
The department also has a facility that will open in 2023 and provide urgent behavioral health care 24/7. There will be many services available, including detoxing, a crisis stabilization unit and short-term intensive residential treatment.
Once construction is done, the funds from the facility will be directed into the Bridge Fund.
“(The Bridge Fund is) intended to decrease the barriers to access to care in the community,” Stolen said.
“(The) Bridge Fund is dedicated to removing the most common barriers people experience, such as cost of care and cost of medications, transportation, reducing wait times by increasing capacity where possible,” The Larimer County website states.
Stolen said it’s important to let everyone know where they can call if they need help, and there are numbers for people to call if they are in a crisis or just need someone to talk to.
There are two 24/7 hotlines for people to call if they are struggling.
SummitStone Health Partners crisis line at (970) 494-4200
Connections at (970) 221-5551
The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is located at 408 Mason Court in Fort Collins and has interactive activities for all ages.
People can go to the Museum of Discovery website to learn more about the exhibit and purchase tickets. For more up-to-date statistics of mental health in Larimer County, go to the Behavioral Health Services webpage.
Austria Cohn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AustriaCohn.