Connecting Colorado’s Communities Online

Regional Health Connectors know that nothing can replace an in-person meeting and connection. But when people are looking for answers, the internet can be a great way to find what they need. That’s why RHCs throughout Colorado have become key partners in building, designing, and sharing websites with information about community services and supports.

In the Upper Arkansas Valley, the Ark Valley Equality Network is providing resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, and other queer community members, their families, and supporters. Regional Health Connector Mike Orrill helped identify local resources to be shared on the website and leads the effort to invite and train businesses, public spaces, and other community organizations to create safe, welcoming places for all community members to go through the SAFE SPACE program. It’s one part of Mike’s efforts to help support LGBTQIA people in his region. Before Mike became an RHC, the region had no resources or organizations focused on supporting LGBT Coloradans, who are more likely to report struggling with depression and some other mental health challenges.

Ark Valley website
Ark Valley Equality Network’s new website

In Southwest Colorado, RHC Mary Dengler-Frey has served as a trusted source for her local newspaper, the Durango Herald, on all things behavioral health since she began working as an RHC in 2017. She was an integral part of developing Durango Cares, a website launched by the Durango Herald as a suicide and behavioral health resource for La Plata County. The area has a high rate of suicide and the newspaper reports on these deaths often, so its staff decided the paper needed a place to send people looking for resources beyond the news. “I have been assisting them with the development of this online resource by connecting them the current, relevant, and accessible resources for the community,” Mary said.

Urban areas rely on RHC-supported websites as well. When Laura Don began working as an RHC in Douglas County, she heard physicians and community partners ask for resources to make healthy eating and active living more accessible. Providers felt they had to look outside their county and send residents to other areas for support. With healthy food on her mind, Laura created Douglas County HEAL Menu, which includes information about nutrition and wellness classes, individual nutrition and wellness services, food assistance, recreation center scholarship programs and more. She updates the menu each quarter.

Providers in Larimer County can find resources for behavioral health, communicable disease, marijuana, and tobacco on a website developed by Region 2 RHC Jane Gerberding. The Larimer County Provider Resource Tool has been shared with over 110 physical and behavioral health providers since it was developed in July, and it is continually being updated. Many community organizations report that the toolkit has helped them expand their access to local resources. For example, the manager for the care coordinators at the local youth clinic reported that she had worked at the clinic for 14 years and never knew about many of the resources the RHC shared on the website.

To learn more about the connections in your area, contact your Regional Health Connector using our map!

– Rebecca Rapport, program manager