Health Department hires coordinator for youth mental health and substance abuse

Mary Christa Smith says she has been inspired by Summit County’s endeavor to address mental health and substance abuse in the community and is especially excited to join the effort as the new coordinator for youth mental health and substance abuse prevention programs.

The Summit County Health Department hired Smith as the Communities That Care/Youth Programs coordinator through a grant from Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz and his wife, Elana Amsterdam. She started on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

The Health Department, along with various agencies, elected leaders and school district officials, is beginning to implement a plan to help close the gaps in the community’s mental health and substance abuse services.

“The Community’s That Care program is part of the mental wellness alliance and this particular initiative focuses on youth. It’s actually a system that is designed to bring all these stakeholders and partners to the table to create a comprehensive program,” Smith said. “I continue to be inspired by the power to harness the various stakeholders in the community to move toward the common goal.”

Communities That Care is an evidence-based program, Smith said, with various phases. She added, “Right now we are gathering and assessing data across all three school districts to see what the trends and needs are.”

“We will work with the various school districts and Valley Behavioral Health to help them define programs and create a comprehensive strategy and plan,” Smith said. “If we can see that there are certain risk factors that are high, we can implement privative programs and reevaluate and assess them as we go along.”

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