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Colorado School of Public Health News and Stories

Mental Health

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ColoradoSPH's Top Stories of 2023

In 2023, some of the nation’s top public health researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health tackled a variety of the largest public health questions facing us today.

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Mental Health    Suicide Prevention

Boosting Mental Health in the Community

In preparing this newsletter, I was struck by the broad array of initiatives led by our faculty to address community mental health needs. I was also reminded of the complex challenges our state faces.

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Mental Health    Environment    Worker Health

Agricultural Worker Mental Health in Southern Colorado

Katherine A. James, PhD, MSPH, MSCE, traditionally focuses her research on environmental exposures and epidemiology while holding long-standing community partners in the San Luis Valley (SLV). While doing a preliminary assessment for environmental health hazards for the agriculture workforce in Southern Colorado, her community partners sounded an alarm for a behavioral health crisis in the Ag community. James quickly redirected her attention to these health disparities.

Author Nick Stoll | Publish Date June 01, 2023
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Community    COVID-19    Mental Health    Scholarship    Awards    Community and Practice

Top 10 Stories of 2022

In the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) faculty, staff, students, and alumni helped shape the conversation. And while the pandemic occupied much of our focus as a nation and a global community, our research and community engagement continued in other important areas of public health as well.

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Mental Health    Suicide Prevention    Environment    Worker Health

Preventing Suicide and Protecting Mental Health in the Construction Industry

There is a mental health epidemic going on in the construction industry. People working in construction are nearly 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Among working-age men, construction workers account for nearly 20% of all suicide deaths. As of 2020, construction workers were five times more likely to die from suicide than from a workplace injury or accident.

Author David Shapiro | Publish Date November 15, 2022
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Community    Mental Health    Addiction    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Environment    Worker Health

Responding to Colorado’s Mental Health and Substance Use Epidemic

The Center for Health, Work & Environment (CHWE) at the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) is responding to the national mental health crisis and substance use epidemic that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This emergency requires a strong joint effort between public health organizations and employers. 

Author Laura Veith | Publish Date July 09, 2022
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Students    Mental Health    Student and Alumni    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Suicide Prevention    Community Health    Maternal & Child Health

Digital Duo Takes Home Award for an Innovative Campaign to Combat Mental Health Issues in Youth

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that half of the nation’s adolescents have experienced a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at some time in their lives. Many young people receive treatment to prevent these and other issues from worsening and becoming chronic, but many others do not, leading to problems that persist into adulthood and have serious consequences, both for the individuals and for society.

Author Tyler Smith | Publish Date May 19, 2022
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Mental Health    Community Health

Drs. Charlotte Farewell and Jini Puma Receive ACF Funding for WELL Project

Charlotte Farewell, PhD, MPH, and Jini Puma, PhD, are one of six research teams awarded a 5-year grant from the Administration for Children and Families for the "Wellbeing of the ECE workforce working in Low-resources Locations (WELL)" study. The goal of the study is to investigate factors associated with worker wellbeing in Head Start settings and then implement and assess the multi-level, multi-strategy intervention (WELL) via partnerships with five large urban and rural Head Start agencies in Colorado. Collectively, the six research teams will create the Head Start-University Research Collaborative to establish evidence related to worker wellbeing in the early childhood education workforce. 

Author Colorado School of Public Health | Publish Date September 30, 2021
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Mental Health    Workforce Development    Environment    Worker Health

OSHA Regional Managers Taking Workplace Mental Health Seriously

The pandemic has made public knowledge of something those of us in occupational safety and health have known for quite some time: employee mental health matters. It also cannot be improved without great attention and effort. A workplace culture that promotes mental health awareness demands both organizational support and individual commitment.

Author David Shapiro | Publish Date July 15, 2021
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Mental Health   

Population Mental Health & Wellbeing Newsletter—Summer 2021

What's new with PMHW?

The PMHW program will have its first cohort of fully online students starting in the Fall. These students represent many areas of the country and many different backgrounds. They will be completing their MPH degrees completely online. This new format offers increased flexibility and availability to students who work full-time or who are unable to relocate in order to complete a degree program. We are looking forward to welcoming these students into the PMHW family.

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Community    COVID-19    Mental Health    Infectious disease    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Worker Health

Supporting Employee Mental Health: A New Module for Employers to Make Real Change

The Center for Health, Work & Environment (CHWE) at the Colorado School of Public Health has partnered with the University of Colorado Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center to develop and launch the Workplace Mental Health Module, an online toolkit designed for employers wanting to raise awareness and improve the mental health of their employees.

COVID-19 has significantly impacted workers and the business community. Employees and business owners have experienced tremendous stress due to shutdowns, school closures, financial losses and family illness. Almost half of Americans are suffering from mental health issues due to the pandemic.

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Mental Health   

Population Mental Health & Wellbeing Newsletter - Winter 2021

Our First PMHW Graduate

I “digitally” sat down with Alexa Hansen, our first PMHW graduate and our featured student for this quarter’s newsletter. Here’s a bit of what she had to say.

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Research    Mental Health    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Worker Health

Higher Demands and Lower Access to Resources Impact Job Satisfaction Among the Early Childhood Education Workforce

The early childhood education workforce has a significant impact on the development of language, motor, cognitive, and social-emotional skills in young children. The ability of these workers to foster this development in the children under their care is influenced by their own physical and mental health. The well-being of this workforce is often overlooked when considering the quality of the care that children receive. Early childhood education is an occupation with many stressors, including low wages, long hours, high job demands, increased risk of exposure to infectious diseases and environmental hazards such as cleaning supplies. These work conditions contribute to the disproportionately high mental and physical conditions experienced by the early education workforce, where high turnover rates are also seen. Those who work at Head Start programs, which provide free care to low-income families, have been shown to be particularly vulnerable to these demands.

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Mental Health    AI/AN health    Maternal & Child Health

PMHW Winter Faculty Highlight — Nancy Whitesell, PhD

Dr. Nancy Whitesell is one of the affiliated faculty members for PMHW. She sat down with us to share more about her work and the communities that she works with. Here's what she had to say. 

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Research    Mental Health    Epidemiology    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Suicide Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

Psychiatric Diagnoses Are Associated With Selection of Lethal Means in Suicide Deaths

Suicides are the second leading cause of death among 15-44-year-olds and the tenth overall leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide prevention efforts include consideration of whether an at-risk individual has access to lethal means and whether an individual has any psychiatric disorder such as mood disorders, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, or substance abuse disorders. A psychiatric disorder diagnosis is a known risk for factor for suicide. Previous studies that examined specific means of suicide focused on demographic factors such as gender, race, urban/rural designation, age, or health status, and whether those factors are associated with specific lethal means. A recent study from the Colorado School of Public Health examined whether the choice of means by which a person dies by suicide is associated with specific psychiatric diagnoses.

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Students    Mental Health    Graduation    Suicide Prevention

Meet the First Graduate of the Population Mental Health & Wellbeing Program

I virtually sat down with Alexa Hansen to talk about her experiences at the Colorado School of Public Health and her plans for the future. Here's what she had to say.

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COVID-19    Mental Health    Infectious disease    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Environment    Worker Health

Study Published on the Well-Being of Small Business Workers During COVID-19

During the month of May when the pandemic was starting to take hold, researchers from the Center for Health, Work & Environment (CHWE) at the Colorado School of Public Health (ColoradoSPH) performed a study to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the well-being of workers in Colorado. The team evaluated changes to employees’ work and home life resulting from COVID-19 and individual perceptions of workplace safety and health climates. These climates reflect employee perceptions of how committed their employer is to their safety and health. They are commonly used as an indicator of organizational safety and health cultures.

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Mental Health   

PMHW Fall 2020 Newsletter

MPH in Population Mental Health & Wellbeing program

This program is ideal for public health professionals seeking to expand their expertise to mental health and wellbeing promotion, service providers seeking a population-level perspective, and those looking to launch a meaningful career in this exciting new field.

Author Colorado School of Public Health | Publish Date September 23, 2020
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COVID-19    Mental Health    Epidemiology    Infectious disease    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    ColoradoSPH at CSU    ColoradoSPH at UNC    Data and Health    AI/AN health    Biostatistics    Health Advocacy    Maternal & Child Health    Latino Health

ABC News: Wearing a Mask in the United States is Political, but Republicans are Speaking Out as Coronavirus Cases Grow

Wearing a mask or face covering in the US has become about more than just slowing the spread of COVID-19 — some experts say it's a political statement, signalling another layer in the deep divisions within America.

Author ABC News | Publish Date June 30, 2020
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Students    Mental Health    Infectious disease    Student and Alumni    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Community Health

Student Spotlight: Mother, Researcher, and Mentor Researches How COVID-19 Affects Mental Health—and How Public Health Can Respond

A DrPH candidate at the Colorado School of Public Health (CSPH), Community and Behavioral Health Program, Jennifer Jewell works full-time and raises two children. She understands the need to adapt. After a seven-year break from academia, Jewell returned to school full-time to pursue her passion—psychiatric epidemiology—a field that did not exist when she completed her master’s degree in 2013. 

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Mental Health    Worker Health

Plant Rx: Five of the Best Indoor Plants to Keep You Company During Self-Isolation

For never considering myself a green thumb, I surround myself with a jungle of plant children. My plants give me the overwhelming sense that I am connected to nature still within my apartment walls. And now, as we try to manage our mental health at home, in small ways my plants are helping me get through this uncertain time.

Author Amanda Kujawa | Publish Date May 20, 2020
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Community    COVID-19    Mental Health    Epidemiology    Firearm Injury Prevention    Infectious disease    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Suicide Prevention    Gun Violence Prevention    Injury & Violence Prevention

COVID-19 and Suicide: An Uncertain Connection

I live and work in Colorado, a beautiful state that can look to an outsider like a year-round playground of sunshine and skiing. But my state has a big problem: suicide rates that are among the highest in the country. 

Author Emmy Betz | Publish Date April 22, 2020
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Research    Mental Health    Suicide Prevention    Environment    Worker Health

Mental Health in the Mountains

Mental health is at the front and center as our world faces the coronavirus pandemic. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 9.6 million American adults suffer from a serious mental illness —that is 1 in 5 adults. Mountain and rural communities, ski towns specifically, have significantly higher rates of suicide compared to the national average (14.0 per 100,000). Destinations such as Telluride and Aspen in Colorado and Alta and Snowbird in Utah have up to two to three times as many suicides as the national average. It has been referred to as the “paradise paradox”.” With the allure of the West’s landscapes and outdoor lifestyles often comes a host of realities including isolation, lack of mental health care, easy access to firearms, and financial stressors. Experts from the University of Colorado Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center have also cited the social makeup of these communities as a contributing factor to mental health conditions and suicide. The transient nature of resort communities results in people having to regularly rebuild their support systems. 

Last September, we partnered with community groups in Summit County, Utah to invite local employers to share their perspectives on the topic. Representatives from the tourism and service industries expressed the significant mental health struggle their communities face. One participant, an owner of a local restaurant group, summed it up as a “toxic work environment.” “You have people who come here to live the dream but have to work three jobs just to get by,” he explained. “We live and work in a place with primarily seasonal jobs which come with income instability, very high demands, and stress in peak times.” Other participants shared how they support employees by shifting schedules to allow employees to take days off even at busy times. “Overall, we heard from local business leaders that mental health is an issue they care about. They want to find solutions to ensure that their workforce is safe not only when they come to work, but when they go home,” shared Lili Tenney, director of outreach at the Center for Health, Work & Environment. “These employers often face ongoing struggles just to stay in business, so to have people take time off to share their personal stories and commitment to take action was very encouraging.” 

In response to the workforce needs of these communities, our Center partnered with the Depression Center to host two days of workshops in February for mental health and suicide prevention in the workplace. The in-person trainings focused on reducing stigma, identifying warning signs, gaining crucial conversation skills, and establishing adaptable workplace supports. The first day trained 150 employees from Vail Resorts representing seven company divisions including base and mountain operations, hospitality, skier services, and corporate administration. The group of supervisors ranged from 25-66+ years of age and responded in pre and post surveys that they had all been in contact with someone who appeared to be experiencing mental health challenges at work. Sixty-nine percent of them reported being in contact with someone who appeared suicidal. The second day was hosted by the Park City Chamber of Commerce and brought together managers and supervisors from the service and tourism industries. Participants improved their knowledge about suicide from pre-training (3.1/5) to post-training (4.1/5) and improved their ability to get help for someone considering suicide from pre-training (3.4/5) to post-training (4.6/5). 

“Employers in these communities are eager to play a role in supporting their employees,” says Tenney. “While our work at the Center aims to serve workers across the Western region, we are focused on developing community models that provide education and resources to help prevent mental illness and suicide in all places where access to care is lacking and risk factors are high.” 

To receive more information on supporting employees, visit our Health Links Resource Center and training opportunities.   

Special thanks to Alex Yannacone, Director of Education and Community Programs at the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center, CONNECT Summit County, Park City Chamber of Commerce, and Vail Resorts.   

Author Liliana Tenney, DrPH, MPH | Publish Date April 07, 2020
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Community    Mental Health    Community and Practice    Suicide Prevention

2020 Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol

Mental Health Colorado and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - Colorado Chapter are once again hosting Suicide Prevention Day in February. Registration isn't open just yet, but you can check out the event page on Facebook for more information and updates as the event gets closer.

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Mental Health    Environment    Worker Health

Silence Stunts Healing: Opening Up About Mental Health in the Workplace. A Personal Note.

One in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness[1], yet we’re loath to talk about mental health in the workplace.  We’re hesitant to ask for what we need—a flexible work schedule, a mental health day, a check-in with leadership. We don’t want to lose our jobs, be passed up for promotions, be judged by coworkers. The stigma of mental illness keeps us silent. And silence stunts healing.

Author Amanda Kujawa | Publish Date November 20, 2019
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Community    Mental Health    Community and Practice    Suicide Prevention

Holiday Blues?

The holiday season can be a difficult time for many people, especially students. If you think you might need someone to talk to, the AMC campus has resources to help students, residents, and fellows. The Department of Psychiatry offers mental health appointments that can often be scheduled within a week. For more information, call (303) 724-4716 or go to the Student and Resident Mental Health website.

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Community    Mental Health    Community and Practice    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Community Health

Colorado Leaders Call For Action to Address Urgent Statewide Mental Health Needs

In a statement called Colorado Course Corrections, The Equitas Project has called for an urgent and immediate shift in awareness, and rebalancing of effort and investment across multiple stakeholders who share accountability for the health and safety of all Coloradans.

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Mental Health    ColoradoSPH at CSU   

Virtual Reality Technology Translates to Body Positivity in Body Image Research

Though Dr. Juyeon Park has devoted much of her professional research to studying how humans use technology – focusing more on the human aspects than on designing the technology itself – she still didn’t anticipate the “Eureka!” moments and, sometimes, tears that came when young women truly saw themselves.

Author Rachel Sauer | Publish Date January 17, 2019
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Research    Mental Health    ColoradoSPH at CU Anschutz    Environment    Worker Health

Depression and Fatigue Increase Women’s Risk of Work-Related Injuries

Women who suffer from depression, anxiety, and fatigue are more likely to be injured at work, according to a new study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine led by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Health, Work & Environment on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. The study found that these health factors significantly affected women’s risk of injury but not men’s risk. 

Author Avery Artman | Publish Date February 14, 2018
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Cancer    Mental Health    Latino Health

ColoradoSPH to Address Mental Health Disparities in Cancer Patients

The Colorado School of Public Health has been named a recipient of a  $1.9 million grant to address mental health disparities in low-income, uninsured and under-insured Coloradans who are suffering from lung, head and neck cancers. The grant is part of $152.8 million in grants that were recently allocated by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Board of Governors to support studies covering a range of conditions and problems that impose high burdens on patients, caregivers, and the healthcare system.

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Colorado School of Public Health In the News

Colorado Public Radio

State launches first-ever firearm data dashboard meant to help Coloradans better understand gun violence, prevention

news outletColorado Public Radio
Publish DateFebruary 26, 2024

Beyond mass shootings, which generate a lot of media and public attention, gun deaths have steadily increased in Colorado for more than a decade, according to the state health department and reflected on the dashboard. During that time, state leaders and community advocates have worked to fight the trend. Now they’re turning to a new avenue — a public health approach to gun violence prevention. 

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The Denver Post

CDC chops $5 million in funding to Colorado research center working with local public health groups

news outletThe Denver Post
Publish DateFebruary 23, 2024

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to end its funding for a Colorado center that helps local public health organizations get their programs off the ground and prove they work. Colorado’s Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to the director of the CDC this week asking that the agency reconsider cutting funding to the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center.

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Colorado Public Radio

Can Colorado teachers feel more prepared for school emergencies?

news outletColorado Public Radio
Publish DateFebruary 21, 2024

Between reading, writing, and arithmetic, there are also disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and acts of violence at schools. While school districts have security and drills for these events, educators often have unanswered questions and are left feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Two Anschutz researchers wanted to change that, starting with gathering school staff’s ideas and addressing their questions about safety.

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CSU Source

What do your blood test results mean? A toxicologist explains the basics of how to interpret them

news outletCSU Source
Publish DateFebruary 07, 2024

As a toxicologist, Brad Reisfeld, a ColoradoSPH professor at CSU, studies the effects of drugs and environmental contaminants on human health. As part of his work, he relies on various health-related biomarkers, many of which are measured using conventional blood tests. Understanding what common blood tests are intended to measure can help you better interpret the results.

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