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Aspen Public Radio is talking about mental health. We started this discussion with a focus on the collision of pandemic depression and seasonal depression. However, mountain communities have specific mental health issues, including higher rates of suicide, and we're continuing the conversation to examine how we can develop better overall community mental health habits as we navigate through the pandemic and beyond.We’ll be talking with local experts, but the Aspen Public Radio newsroom also wants to hear directly from our listeners. We encourage you to contact us with any questions, comments or stories by emailing news@aspenpublicradio.org and putting "Mental Health Project" in the subject line.

High Risk At High Altitude: Where Are We Now?

There’s still a high local demand for mental health services, but there are some silver linings from this past year, according to Mind Springs Program Director Hans Lutgring.

After over a year of the pandemic, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Cases of COVID are going down as people get vaccinated and things are starting to reopen. Many people are seeing friends and family again after a year or more apart. But how are people doing when it comes to mental health?

Hans Lutgring is the Glenwood Springs Outpatient Program Director at Mind Springs Health. Lutgring said that while the pandemic is seemingly winding down, there’s still a high local demand for mental health services, but there are some silver linings from this past year.

“I think there’s a collective awareness that mental health is not separate — you cannot unpack that from our overall health, our overall wellness, our community wellness,” he said.

As part of our mental health series “High Risk At High Altitude,” arts and culture reporter Kirsten Dobroth spoke with Lutgring about where we are now when it comes to people’s mental health.

Kirsten was born and raised in Massachusetts, and has called Colorado home since 2008. She moved to Vail the day after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2011. Before relocating to Basalt in 2020, she also spent a year living in one of Aspen’s sister cities, Queenstown, New Zealand.