PUEBLO, Colorado — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Colorado have teamed up with Pueblo's Health Solutions to help people in crisis in Southern Colorado.
The Colorado Spirit program is a free, confidential resource for people who are struggling with the stress and anxiety of a job loss, death of a loved one, or other COVID-related catastrophes.
Sandy Gutierrez, Chief Experience Officer at Health Solutions explained that FEMA sees the pandemic as an ongoing national emergency.
"(Ordinarily), a team comes into the community, they provide the needed resources, connect those impacted by that event to services," Gutierrez said.
The agency has distributed disaster relief funds to the states to help with the ongoing pandemic. Gutierrez said one of the most in-demand services is mental and behavioral health.
"It runs the gambit, but we are seeing an increase in alcohol and drug use, we're also seeing an increase in suicidal, suicide ideations," she said.
Often, the root cause of that stress and anxiety comes down to finances. Colorado Spirit has some money available to help with difficult expenses like rent or utilities.
Gutierrez encourages people to call their help-line at 719-568-2564.
"If we can remove that anxiety, and help them get connected to the needed resources, they can better take more self-care of themselves and their families," Gutierrez said.
While Colorado Spirit doesn't directly provide mental health counseling, they will connect people who need that service with the professionals at Health Solutions. For many, those sessions happen either over the phone or virtually through telehealth or telemedicine services.
Health Solutions is based in Pueblo, but the Colorado Spirit team also serves folks in Huerfano and Las Animas counties. They plan to expand to communities along the Arkansas Valley and eastern plains after the first of the year.