BEE HEARD: May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Something we all need to hear right now

Photo Credit: Native Connections

What is Mental Health Awareness Month?

First, what is mental health? Mental health is our ability to live, laugh, love, and learn. If we are struggling in any of those areas, our mental health might need some TLC- tender loving care. Remember, our mental health is just as important as our physical health! If we can’t eat without feeling pain in our teeth, we might have a toothache. Ignoring it and wishing it goes away won’t help the situation. Eventually, we will need to see a dentist, right?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mental health illnesses or conditions can affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior. Some examples are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Such conditions may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic) and affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. 

For Native Americans who embrace a broader view of mental health and its relationship to our spiritual, physical, and emotional wellbeing, it is important to have balance within ourselves and with these elements. When there is an imbalance, we experience disconnection, risk-taking behaviors, neglect of oneself and others, self-coping with substances, low self-esteem, and much more. If we learn to understand what mental health or mental wellbeing is and how it relates to all parts of our lives, we may find ourselves being more balanced and in harmony in our lives. 

Mental Health Awareness Month was created in 1949 in an effort to reach out to people through many platforms, to spread awareness about mental health. Now more than ever, we need to combat the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. That’s why this Mental Health Month the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division is highlighting #Tools2Thrive – what individuals can do throughout their daily lives to prioritize mental health, build resiliency, and continue to cope with the obstacles of the pandemic. 

We all need to hear this right now: You are not alone!

Many Southern Ute departments and programs are working together this month to bring mental health information to you through many topics such as food, physical movement, motivational talking, healthy relationships, youth, elders, and much more! We are proud to announce that no one who is experiencing mental health conditions is alone; your community is here for you! 

Many of us have spoken to friends, family, professionals, and even strangers about what we are going through in our lives. It might be that short passing while standing in line for your takeout food or bumping into a friend and you start chatting about how stressful your day has been or maybe even how wonderful it’s been. Whether we know it or not, we all share how we are feeling or how our day is going. Sometimes we lie and don’t want to admit how terrible we feel or maybe downplay how great we feel for whatever reasons. However we choose to share our experiences, and how we are feeling, is important. 

Some of our experiences and situations might be overwhelming to the point we might need some additional advice and support. When that happens, it is okay to reach out to a professional counselor or therapist. It’s okay. No one expects you to do everything on your own. No one expects you to fix everything on your own or to fix other people. It’s okay to reach out, even when things are good. Remember, we all get yearly physical exams to make sure our physical bodies are doing well. We should think of our mental health in the same way. 

You Are Not Alone!

People who went through the Indian boarding school era. You are not alone. 

People who had substance use issues with themselves or with their family and friends. You are not alone.

Youth who experienced anxiety or depression or isolation because of the pandemic. You are not alone.

People who felt afraid, scared, or anxious because of any or all of the past year’s political, racial, and social dilemmas. You are not alone.

People who identify as LGBTQ+ or Two Spirit. You are not alone. 

People who have been diagnosed with mental health disorder(s) or have family and friends who have been. You are not alone. 

People who have been abused or have abused others. You are not alone. 

People who have suffered from a loss of a loved one. You are not alone. 

People who lost their jobs or are struggling financially and are struggling to support themselves and others. You are not alone. 

People who have been bullied online or in person. You are not alone. 

People who have thought about suicide or attempted to die by suicide. You are not alone.

People who have been discriminated against. You are not alone. 

People who are or were incarcerated. You are not alone.  

People who are struggling to reach out for help. You are not alone. Keep staying strong and keep reaching out. 

How to get mental health help

One of the biggest barriers for people who don’t get the mental health help they need is not knowing who to ask or where to start. 

If you or your family receive or can receive care at the Southern Ute Tribal Health Center, then you can also receive services from the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division. Please call the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division at 970-563-5700 to make an appointment to see one of our therapists. If you’re not sure if you qualify under the Southern Ute Tribal Health Center or IHS, please feel free to call and find out at 970-563-4581. 

You can also reach out to the Southern Ute Division of Social Services who provides services to Native American youth and families who live on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation to see if you qualify for any of their services. They can be reached at 970-563-2332.

The Axis Care Hotline has 24/7/365 availability for times when someone is in crisis or just needs someone to talk with. They have locations in Durango, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and Dove Creek. Call the Hotline at 970-247-5245 if you need someone to talk with or if you want more information about their mental health services.  


You are ready to help create a drug-free community? Want to help and be a part of the change?

We are looking for community members and youth to join the Prevention Coalition tasked to reduce youth substance usage, eliminate mental health stigma, and start the discussion around suicide and prevention. 

We have monthly coalition meetings and workshops to help our community understand the real story behind alcohol, meth, opioids, vaping, marijuana, and other drugs in our community. We need your help! All meeting are held virtually. 

For more information please contact Precious Collins, Native Connections Program Coordinator for more information 970-563-5700 or email 

Upcoming Training or Events

FREE online Suicide Prevention Training: Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) for Southern Ute Tribe Employees, and Southern Ute Tribal Members. Let’s all learn the warning signs and what to do if someone is experiencing a crisis. For more information please contact Precious Collins, Native Connections Program Coordinator for more information 970-563-5700 or email 

Native American Youth Talking Circles: A virtual space for youth to meet, talk, and share challenges and accomplishments. Peer support system for Native American Youth in 9-12 grade. Please contact Stephanie Garcia at 970-563-5700 or email OR Lisa Pratchett at to sign up.


  • Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division: NEW LOCATION AND PHONE NUMBER! 4101 CR 222 Durango, CO 970-563-5700. For local Native Americans. We are here to support mental health, substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery. Please call to schedule an appointment to talk to someone. 
  • Southern Ute Division of Social Services: 116 Capote Drive, Ignacio, CO 970-563-2331 for local Native Americans needing assistance with child welfare needs and family support.
  • St Ignatius Catholic Church: Pastor Cesar Arras, 14826 CO-172, Ignacio, CO 970-563-4241.
  • Ignacio Community Church: Pastor Randall Haynes 405 Browning Ave, Ignacio, CO 970-759-3633 
  • Second Wind Fund of the Four Corners: Believes that every child and youth at risk of suicide should have access to the mental health treatment they need. We match children and youth at risk for suicide with licensed therapists in their communities, 720-962-0706.
  • Women’s Resource Center: Creates personal, social and professional growth opportunities for all women in La Plata County, 970-247-1242.


  • 24/7 Axis Crisis Line – SW Colorado: 970-247-5245 or Text 741741
  • Colorado Crisis Line: 844-493-8255 or Text “TALK” to 38255. You’ll immediately be put in contact with a trained counselor, ready to text with you about anything.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Has both an online chat and 24/7 phone line at 1-800-273-8255 if you are thinking of suicide or need help for a loved one.
  • The Trevor Project: Which seeks to serve LGBT youth, has a 24/7 suicide prevention line at 866-488-7386.
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