In response to two local tragedies, the community of Longmont found itself searching for a better way to support residents struggling with mental health issues.
After the tragedies, a group of 50 community members formed a coalition called Supporting Action for Mental Health (SAM). SAM is the collaborative effort of local community groups and organizations, faith communities, residents, and local government to raise awareness and address mental health issues in Longmont.
Since its inception, SAM has put community engagement front and center in all of its work. Initially, SAM hosted ten Community Conversations in just ten week to identify, and take steps to remedy, mental health issues facing the community. The group also trained more than 50 volunteers to facilitate conversations. Three of these conversations were conducted with monolingual Spanish speakers and one with youth.
After the initial community conversations, SAM reconvened participants to prioritize future community actions. Community members discussed and deliberated about numerous options before deciding to focus efforts on:
After receiving a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation, SAM became a formal project directed together by The City of Longmont, Mental Health Partners, and Longmont United Hospital. This support enabled the group to focus on mental health first aid, conversation on mental health, anti-stigma work and community education.
SAM has taken intentional actions to ensure that the work being done is inclusive, particularly for the monolingual Spanish-speaking/Latino community and for the LGBTQ community. This includes working with 10 Latino/Hispanic cultural brokers who are actively involved in City programs and nonprofits in the community. Three Latino/Hispanic cultural brokers serve on the steering committee, two serve on the Crisis Action Team, and one serves on the Education Team. There also are seven Latino/Hispanic cultural brokers on the Latino Outreach Team. These individuals represent a variety of organizations in the community, including the youth center, senior center, family resource center, victim advocates, the school district, and an organization serving individuals with disabilities. This team is focused on ensuring that the work of SAM is bilingual and culturally sensitive and identifying the best way to talk about mental health and mental health education in the Latino community.
SAM has also made engagement of LGBTQI+ residents a priority, recognizing that mental health challenges are of particular concern in LGBTQ youth. In Boulder County, these young people have reported higher percentages of bullying, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts. To support these members of the community, SAM is going to train community members as Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) instructors and to work with OUT Boulder (our community’s organization that provides LGBTQ education, services, and advocacy) to identify individuals who could become instructors and help train others in the community in YMHFA.
Results from the past year are very promising:
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA):
Conversations on Mental Health:
Cost of Project: 200,000
Timeline: March 2015 – present
Longmont, CO– 2018 AAC Winner: Presentation
Julie Phillips, Project Coordinator
Supporting Action for Mental Health
City of Longmont
350 Kimbark Street
Longmont, CO 80501