Coloradans Who Need Mental Health Care Have Options Beyond The ER, Jail

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Photo: Mental health crisis living room in Alamosa
Steve Ledwon relaxes in a "comfort room" while listening to Pearl Jam at Mi Esperanza Wellness Center on Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Alamosa, Colorado.

a recent story published in High Country News. Now, a mental health crisis center offers an alternative. Mi Esperanza Wellness Center opened in Alamosa in December 2014, and recently relocated downtown, helping it serve several times the number of people it previously treated.

Reporter Leah Todd found that Mi Esperanza and similar centers in Denver, Colorado Springs, Grand Junction and other communities can help people like Steve Ledwon, who says he previously ended up in hospital emergency rooms to treat bipolar disorder, substance abuse and other problems. Todd reports that Ledwon now regularly visits the Mi Esperanza "crisis living room" to sit in a peaceful environment, listen to his favorite music and receive help from counselors on staff.

Todd's reporting is part of a six-month project called "Small Towns, Big Change." Seven news organizations in Colorado and New Mexico are examining challenges facing the long-term health of rural communities and possible solutions. Todd spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.