Mental health experts: It’s OK to ask for help

RANGELY — Last week’s shooting deaths of Carlos and Lucille Graham left people confused and hurting.
The Grahams had problems, but neither family members nor friends ever expected Carlos Graham would shoot and kill his wife and then turn the gun on himself.
In the aftermath of last week’s shocking events, people are left asking why.
Yes, life’s struggles can seem insurmountable, said Michelle Huber, program coordinator for Colorado West Regional Mental Health office in Rangely, but help is available.
“People need to recognize it’s OK to ask for help,” Huber said. “When people get to those feelings of being overwhelmed, when the pile is too big you don’t know where to start, that’s when you need help.”
Huber likes to use this analogy:
“For a person who has multiple life crises going on, it’s like a big closet, where if you open the doors, things come tumbling out,” Huber said. “You know it’s in there; you just don’t know where to begin.
“Therapy is about opening the door,” she said. “It’s about having support, having someone stand with you. We can assist and help people find tools to break it down to a manageable level.”
Those major life events can include the death of a spouse, legal issues or illness or injury, Huber said.
She recognizes people may be slow to seek help, for different reasons.
“The mentality in our society is suck it up and deal with it,” Huber said. “Or, sometimes people are afraid of therapy or what talking to someone will do.”
But something as simple as talking about one’s problems can help, she said.
“There is value in talking to someone who is not related to the situation, talking to a neutral party,” Huber said. “There’s value in just hearing your own words and thoughts reflected back to you.”
In addition, there are tools, such as relaxation tips, exercise and nutrition, which contribute to mental health, Huber said.
“If that’s not enough, people need to realize there is professional help, addressing what is going on at a psychological level,” she said.
Help through the mental health center is available 24-hours a day. After-hours, people can call the Rio Blanco County Communications Center and the call will be passed on to an on-call clinician.
“All you have to give them is your number and name,” Huber said. “They (the sheriff’s department) are wonderful about it. They make sure we get the calls.”
She understands confidentiality is important.
“If people aren’t comfortable asking for help in a small town, we will refer them,” Huber said. “Both Rangely and Meeker are small towns, and that is frequently a concern.”
Huber, who has lived her entire life in Rangely and raised her family here, cares deeply her community.
“People need to know there really is true help out there,” she said. “People ask, ‘Am I crazy?’ They are so far from crazy. They are human. They are facing anxiety, depression, disappointment. They need compassion.”
For information about Colorado West Regional Mental Health Center in Rangely, call 675-8411; in Meeker, call 878-5112; after hours, call the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office at 878-9620, and ask for the on-call clinician.

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