Blaine County’s Mental Well-Being Initiative

Blaine County’s Mental Well-Being Initiative[i] seeks to grow an integrated mental health and well-being ecosystem that improves the lives of all people in our community. By leveraging and amplifying diverse community efforts, the Initiative supports a shared, integrated, and comprehensive vision for the future. The Initiative seeks to drive lasting, systemic solutions that help meet some of life’s basic needs, prevent a crisis before it happens, and provide connections and mental health care to all who need it. The St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation has committed funding to support this community collaboration.

Identifying Community Needs

In 2023, the St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation convened various stakeholders and community members to map our well-being ecosystem – from prevention and intervention to treatment and recovery – with the goal of identifying strengths that could be amplified and vital gaps that could be filled.

We heard from hundreds of stakeholders and community members that mental health and well-being does not occur in a vacuum – it is impacted by many factors, including lack of affordable housing; disparities of wealth; food insecurity; inadequate childcare and full-day preschool options; social pressures; lack of opportunities for young people to build meaningful social connections outside of school; lack of mental health care providers, including Spanish-speaking providers; and lack of crisis support services.

Coming Together to Create Solutions

With clarity on the problems that need to be solved, the community began to map out solutions [ii] and through this listening process, the Mental Well-being Initiative identified five goals to guide community collaboration moving forward.

1) Create a collaborative effort that supports and incentivizes local businesses and organizations to offer a multitude of welcoming community-connecting environments and activities throughout the county, with a particular focus on teens.

2) Build a robust, comprehensive community training and education program focused on building a common language and understanding of resiliency, self-regulation, healthy communication, and crisis de-escalation.

3) Increase behavioral health access and capacity for individuals and families by assessing the mental health continuum of care in Blaine County, addressing inadequacies within the system, and building out the behavioral health workforce of the future.

4) Create a 24-hour mobile crisis response system and crisis stabilization setting(s) or system.

5) Build the infrastructure required to support ongoing collaboration across organizations, entities, and businesses to prioritize our community’s mental health as foundational to our overall health.

A Role for Everyone Moving Forward

The St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation has funded the work of the Mental Well-being Initiative to date and committed three years of additional funding to ensure expert coordination of the community collaboration and the Spur Community Foundation will continue to play a leadership role in the process. But meaningful and lasting success will require engagement and investment from many community partners and leaders with continued support from all county residents.

Everyone has a role to play moving forward.

Individuals and families can contribute to our community’s mental health and well-being by simply taking care of each other – spending time with friends, family, and neighbors. We know from local surveys that many people lack a sense of belonging. Each one of us can work to change that.

Our schools, organizations, places of worship, and local businesses play a critical role in setting the tone and building a culture of mental well-being. Fostering conversation, providing resources, and ultimately creating opportunities for connection can happen wherever people gather.

The Wood River Valley community is special. We take care of each other and we have a proud history of coming together to tackle important challenges. And we will do it again – we will come together to achieve the goals set by the community as part of this initiative.

The Mental Well-being Initiative will spend the summer of 2024 working with stakeholders to map out a path forward based on the direction set by the community mentioned above. We invite everyone who cares about the health and well-being of our community to stay engaged and look for opportunities to contribute your time, talent, and resources as we move forward, together.

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For more information about Blaine County’s Mental Well-Being Initiative Email Project Coordinator Jenna Vagias
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[i] Steering Committee members include Daniel Abrahamson (Roots Community Health Center), Amanda Deaver (Upstream Strategic Communications), Megan Edwards (St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation), Sally Gillespie (Spur Foundation), Tyler Norris (CEO Alliance for Mental Health), Erin Pfaeffle (St. Luke’s Health System), Deb Robertson (St. Luke’s Wood River), Sarah Seppa (St. Luke’s Center for Community Health), Megan Tanous (St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation), and Jenna Vagias (Project Coordinator).

[ii] Groups and leaders engaged in conversation include Alliance of Idaho, Alpine Integrative Wellness, BCFiRST, Blaine County Charitable Fund, Blaine County Commissioner Muffy Davis, Blaine County Education Foundation, Blaine County Recreation District, Blaine County School District, Blaine County Justice System Departments, City of Hailey Police Department, Communities for Youth, 5B Suicide Alliance, Far + Wise, Flow State Psychotherapy, Flourish Foundation, Hailey Public Library, KH Counseling, Higher Ground,  Idaho Basecamp, Idaho Social Learning Center, JustServe, Men’s Second Chance Living, NAMI-Wood River Valley, Power of the Pause Coaching, Project Tools Success, Redside Foundation, Resiliency Rising, Sage School, Sondance, Spur Community Foundation, St. Luke’s Center for Community Health, St. Luke’s Health System, St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation, Sun Valley Community School, Sun Valley Museum of Art, Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, The Advocates, The Community Library, The Crisis Hotline, The Hunger Coalition, The Senior Connection, The Space, Carrie Thomas Scott, Wood River’s Interfaith Council, Wood River Valley Palliative and Hospice Care, Wood River Early Learning Collaborative, Wood River Fire and Rescue, and the YMCA.