Report to the Community
Report to the Community
Powering the Pursuit of Well-Being
Substance Use Can Make Coping With Stress More Difficult
Drinking alcohol, or using other substances, can sometimes be thought of as a way to relieve stress, cope with trauma or deal with grief. But, is it actually an effective way to find the relief we’re looking for?
Substance Use Can Cause A Vicious Cycle
“If I’m drinking or using any substance, I might get a temporary break from my worries, so I might feel better in the moment,” said Ashlie Lund-Richardson, assistant program manager at the WellPower.
But, when you come off that substance, you have a tremendous amount of rebound anxiety.
“So, the anxiety you experienced before actually becomes extremely heightened when you come off the substance, which can perpetuate the cycle of substance use,” said Jade Werner, clinical case manager and licensed addictions counselor at the WellPower.
Substance use does not allow us to process what is happening in our lives. It prevents us from effectively working through the stress, grief or trauma that is driving us to find relief.
In addition, it can cause guilt and shame – powerful emotions that can add to the cycle of wanting to find an escape.
How to Know When Substance Use Becomes Unhealthy
Simply using a substance does not mean you have a disorder.
“Many people use substances recreationally, and maybe it’s not an issue for them,” Jade said. “It becomes an issue when it impairs how we function in our life.”
Questions to ask yourself about substance use:
- Is this having a negative impact on my:
- Physical Health
- Do I feel hungover or sick?
- Has a medical provider suggested I stop, and I continue to use substances anyway?
- Work or School
- Am I running late?
- Am I unable to focus or do my work?
- Are my relationships with my children, partner, friends, parents, etc. affected?
- Legal Situation
- Have I gotten a DUI?
- Have other legal issues come up?
- Physical Health
- Is it becoming the primary activity I engage in?
- Am I spending time trying to find a substance?
- Am I craving it?
“If there’s a negative impact somewhere in our lives, then that’s our cue that our substance use is becoming problematic,” Ashlie said.
Why It’s Hard to Stop
Everyone has a different story.
“You can have a biological addition to alcohol where you experience physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop,” Ashlie said. “And other people might be emotionally attached.”
“Substances change the actual structure of our brain,” Jade said.
They artificially put dopamine, a neurotransmitter, in our brains, which makes us feel satisfied. If we use substances long-term as a coping mechanism, and then stop using them, there is a lower level of dopamine in our brains. It results in us wanting instant gratification instead of working through something.
“It’s not that people are weak-minded or don’t have the willpower to stop,” Jade said. “When substance use is a disorder, it’s something that has to be managed, similar to other disorders like diabetes.”
And not only is it a physical and emotional addiction – it’s a cultural one too, especially when it comes to alcohol.
“It’s very normal to get a bottle of wine after work or grab some drinks at the grocery store. We’ve normalized it so much in our culture that we start to forget to look at it when it’s problematic for us,” Ashlie said. “To stop, you have to face whatever you’ve been avoiding.”
Resources to Help
When substance use becomes a disorder, it can feel isolating. No one has to go through it alone.
We provide support to adults and adolescents experiencing difficulties with substance use. We have staff certified in addictions counseling that offer individual and group therapy.
Our variety of groups include people who are:
- Unsure that they want to be in sobriety
- Working on being sober
- Maintaining their sobriety
- Using substances related to trauma
The WellPower also has a medication-assisted therapy program and residential programs that provide wraparound support for individuals experiencing a co-occurring substance use and a mental health disorder.
“There is a high correlation of substance use disorders and mental health symptoms, such as depression or anxiety, occurring together,” Jade said. “If there is something going on in your life and it makes your functioning difficult, give us a call. We’re not concerned about labels. We treat people and symptoms.”
To access services, call 303.504.7900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Colorado Crisis Services
If you are in crisis or need help dealing with one, call this 1-844-493-TALK (8255) to speak to a trained professional, or text TALK to 38255. In addition, you can visit a 24/7 a walk-in center across the Denver metro area.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Find resources, including a substance use treatment locator to find support near you.
Denver CARES provides safe withdrawal management from alcohol and drugs.
It May be Time to Update Your Well-Being Plan
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about the effects COVID-19 has on physical health – what about mental health? We recently looked at how the pandemic affects mental health and what we can do about it.
What have we learned over the past year?
Enduring over a year of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lot about gaps in treatment, accessibility, and the digital divide. At the WellPower, we’ve worked hard to address those gaps by bridging our services to meet people where they are.
“The biggest trend I’ve noticed during the pandemic is increased accessibility,” says Clinical Case Manager Tonoa Manuel. Because of how rapidly we adapted to using telehealth services, I can meet people where they are and provide services to them, which is HUGE. By offering services in different ways – both digital and in-person — I believe that this allows for us to better meet the needs of our communities.”
We know now that when mental health services are available both in person and through telehealth, people have better access and are more engaged. They miss fewer appointments and are more motivated to achieve their goals.
We also know that the pandemic has affected people mentally in negative ways. Many people feel compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, social isolation, and economic stress. When we see these trends towards poor well-being, creating a well-being plan or adapting the one you have can help.
Adapt your well-being plan to where you are now
A well-being plan is all the things we do to keep our well-being good. Things like exercising, eating nutritious food, getting enough sleep, socializing with loved ones and seeing a therapist all contribute to our overall health and create our well-being plan when they are put together.
The pandemic affected how we approach our individual well-being plans. Not only did the logistics of how we exercised, cooked, and spent time with people change, but the consistent trauma of living through a pandemic caused a lot of added stress. For many people, attending to their well-being felt like trying to fill a broken cup. No matter how much we try to pour into a broken cup, the liquid leaks out anyway, and faster than if the cup were whole.
“When we think about changing our well-being plan, we have to remind ourselves, ‘What used to work for me isn’t working anymore. The things I did in the past worked then, but they don’t now. So what can I do to modify my well-being plan?’ This gives me permission to change and do something different,” says Director of Clinical Services Steve Fisher.
Take some time to think about what your needs are now and how you can update your well-being plan to fit them. Your plan is personalized to you – what works for someone else may not be the right fit for you. As you adapt your plan to fit what you need now, remember to be kind to yourself. If you need support, we encourage you to check out You@YourBest for tools and tips to promote your well-being.
Ending Anti-Black Racism
The WellPower is committed to ending the discrimination and anti-Black racism that runs throughout our society. Over the past year, we formed organizational workgroups to respond to the anti-Black racism crisis and are committed to leading further change.
We are currently working toward the following priorities:
- Strengthening our recruitment and retention efforts of Black clinicians.
- Enhancing our vendor relationships with Black- and minority-owned businesses.
- Hosting and engaging in community forums with the Black community.
- Supporting Black-owned organizations advancing social justice.
- Expanding and deepening partnerships with organizations focused on the health of the Black community.
- Advocating for legislation and policies that advance equity.
Current Efforts & Accomplishments in Ending Anti-Black Racism
- Assessing our job interview and selection processes to reduce bias.
- Working with Metro State University (the most diverse university in the Denver area) to offer training and recruitment opportunities for students.
- Partnering with professional organizations, such as the National Association of Black Social Workers, to recruit new hires.
- Supporting other organizations that work to end anti-Black racism through financial sponsorships.
- Training staff on advocacy work and topics related to diversity, equity and inclusiveness.
- Encouraging voter registration among staff and people we serve.
- Engaging our newly formed public policy team.
- Expanding the way we collect demographic data in our electronic health record, including adding race categories from which individuals can self-identify.
- Improving data collection in our electronic health record to identify any discrepancies in our care.
- Training staff on 911 dispatch best practices to guide appropriate use of police, and ensuring police are trauma-informed when they do need to be called.
- Earning a top employer designation from DiversityJobs.com for the second year, as a result of our consistency around diverse recruitment efforts.
- Listening to and engaging with the Black community to inform our initiatives, including understanding where we are currently present and where we need to show up more strongly.
We know our work is far from over – it’s an ongoing effort. So, our next priorities will increase our capacity to continue this work in our community.
- Conduct surveys on health in the Black community, and compensate participants for their time.
- Receive consultation from community leaders to train our staff on anti-Black racism.
- Develop a new risk assessment scale that includes anti-Black racism as an indicator. A risk assessment like this does not currently exist.
- Expand paid internships.
- Strengthen nationwide recruitment at schools outside of the Denver-Metro area.
- Host focus groups to get feedback on our new tools, such as our telehealth app, and compensate participants for their time.
- Integrate decision-making support into our electronic health record, such as pop-up messages that provide information and treatment recommendations based on average demographic trends.
- Create a process where a person we serve can request specific attributes in a therapist they would like to see (e.g., a Black therapist, female therapist, therapist who understands a specific religion, etc.).
SAVE THE DATE – Colorado Gives Day is December 7
WellPower is participating in Colorado Gives Day for the 11th year in a row.
This annual statewide movement encourages philanthropy through online giving. Featuring a $1 Million incentive fund presented by Community First Foundation and FirstBank, every participating non-profit organization receives a portion of this fund, boosting the value of every dollar donated during the campaign.
Donations for Colorado Gives Day can be scheduled in advance starting November 1 and all gifts received through December 7 on our page at ColoradoGives.org will be matched by the incentive fund.
Join us in powering the pursuit of well-being by supporting WellPower.
Donor Spotlight on Citywide Banks
- Interactive community activities
- Workplace well-being resources
- WellPower information
- Well-being and mental health education
For more information about the Road to Well-Being van, contact email@example.com.
Want to learn more? Check out the featured programs:
Report to the Community
Report to the Community
How to Handle Holiday Stress
The holiday season can be a joyous time to celebrate with friends and family. But it can also cause some serious stress - especially when we're still in the midst of a global pandemic. Here's how to manage some of that anxiety and make this time of year a little less stressful.
Assess Your Comfort Level with Social Events
Navigating multiple social commitments can be tricky on a "normal" basis, but this year could be more complicated. Many people might feel comfortable getting together this year due to the vaccine. Others may not.
"People have varying comfort levels on if to get together, how to get together and with whom," said Cari Ladd, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the WellPower. "I think there's a pull to want to make up for lost time. Maybe it felt like more of a risk to get together last year, but there are still very real concerns to consider."
So, take time to reflect on your own comfort level and your own boundaries around celebrating the holidays with others.
"Have a conversation with your family or yourself about what you are and are not comfortable with," Cari said. "Then, it will be easier to reinforce those boundaries when you get invited to an event or when someone wants to organize a social activity. You will know where you fall in that spectrum of comfort instead of having to decide in the moment.
Be Aware of Your Own Values
Gathering for the holidays can bring out difficult family dynamics. Different opinions and values can sometimes clash. And the pandemic can add a new, complex layer to that.
"Have the awareness of what your own values and personal beliefs are," Cari said. "Sometimes you have to navigate sticky situations, and it can help to pause and ask yourself if you want to be right or effective. That can help us be thoughtful about our approach in different situations."
Practice Self-Care to Combat Holiday Stress
Engage in activities that help you feel revitalized.
"For some people, self-care is relaxing in a bubble bath, and for others, it's organizing a closet," Cari said. "Self-care is anything that helps you feel like you have some autonomy over your own situation and your own life."
During the holiday season, it can be easy to feel overcommitted and overwhelmed. So, self-care can also include politely declining invitations to some social gatherings you have the energy and opportunity to participate in things that truly interest you.
Something Big is Coming
WellPower is rebranding.
In 1989, Denver civic leaders consolidated four independent nonprofit mental health centers into a single system of care: Mental Health Corporation of Denver. In 2005 we changed our name to WellPower and updated our logo and mission statement.
Over the past several years, we've recognized that our current name might describe some of what we do, but it no longer tells people who we are. Since we were founded 33 years ago, what we do encompasses so much more that what a "mental health center" does.
A brand is how we demonstrate the values we have and what we bring to our community. It shows who we are and who we aspire to be as an organization.
Our brand - our name, our logo and colors, how we talk about our programs and impact - are being reimagined to more closely align with our values, our culture and our mission.
While our name and look will change, we remain what we have always been - an organization deeply committed to the people we serve.
Our new brand will be community centric - we are for all. It will spark imagination and capture our strengths-based culture and encompass our ever-expanding list of services.
We know that what we do is a journey. There are no shortcuts or cheat sheets. We believe that everyone deserves to have what they need to live their best life. And this looks different for every single person.
We meet people where they are and stick with them through every step of their journey. We celebrate successes and help work through challenges.
We help people find what they need to thrive.
Be the first to experience this historic news; we'll send word direct to your inbox in late January 2022.
The Journey to Proud
When Frankie began her journey with WellPower, she was part of a three-year long incentivized study for people who applied for social security. The goal was to determine if behavioral health care could support individuals learning to live independently. At the time, Frankie was struggling with a substance use disorder She found it difficult to consistently stick with the treatment plans she and her care team created, often returning to substance use as a way to cope with hardships in her life. In her late forties, Frankie realized that she couldn't continue using drugs and alcohol if she wanted to find success. With renewed determination, she dedicated herself to working with the WellPower on her recovery.
Finding Her Way
Throughout her journey, one of Frankie's biggest lessons was learning to prioritize her own well-being. She knew she wanted to work and bring in income, so Frankie began working with an Employment Specialist at NextChapter. Together, they determined that custodial work would be a good fit for her, initially. For two years, Frankie worked with the custodial team at WellPower's Dickenson building. She began setting personal goals for herself, such as earning her driver's license.
She worked with psychiatrists, nurses, therapists, case managers and more. For several months, she lived at Monaco House, a sober residence run by WellPower staff. During her stay at Monaco House, Frankie realized she wanted more for herself. The residential counselors inspired her to work toward her GED, with a goal to become a residential counselor one day.
Frankie really began to flourish when she found the culinary program at NextChapter, a psychiatric rehabilitation and supported education program that supports individuals in their recovery and promotes well-being at WellPower.
She had previous training in ServSafe, a National Restaurant Association course that certifies individuals in restaurant regulatory and safety requirements for every state. Frankie was able to graduate to the ServSafe managerial program, which provides food safety training, exams and educational materials to foodservice managers. She received her managerial license, and she currently works in the NextChapter kitchen as a student manager.
"Frankie gained the skills throughout her three years with WellPower to put boundaries in place, so she could focus on her work," said Candice Vigil, who runs the culinary program. "When she realized that she wanted to focus on the culinary program, she decided her well-being was important enough to prioritize herself. She quit the custodial job to focus on her culinary training and certifications, which was something she'd never done before. She had to ask herself, 'money or my well-being?' She chose herself."
The Journey to Proud
Today, Frankie has an indomitable sense of self and desire to achieve long-held goals. In addition to living in recovery, she committed herself to getting her GED, finding stable housing, earning her driver's license and finding ways to cope with negative experiences in healthy ways.
So far, she's accomplished most of her list.
"At the beginning, I didn't really know who I was or what I wanted," said Frankie. "I was able to change myself from what I was, to who I am and to who I'm going to be as I keep growing. I never thought I could own a car or have a driver's license. I didn't think it was possible for me, and it is. It completely is."
"I went from surviving to thriving," she said. "I'm certified with ServSafe and I'm working at the NextChapter culinary program. They're also helping me to get my GED. I have goals to own my own business and really foster my relationships with my kids and grandbabies."
To Anyone Out There Struggling
Frankie knows how hard it is to get started and stay committed. At the beginning of her journey with WellPower, she struggled with it, herself. She also knows that sticking with it usually leads to extraordinary outcomes.
"I learned how to deal with everything life throws at me, both the positive and the negative," she remarked. "Sometimes life is still hard, and there are going to be challenges that make me pause on my goals. That doesn't mean I'm giving up, though. I learned how to cope."
She also has one piece of advice for anyone who's not sure about getting help. "Just do it," said Frankie. "It's going to be hard. There are going to be times you're not sure, or that you doubt yourself. Stick with it and keep trying, because you can do this. Don't give up on yourself."
Caring for Our Community & Setting the Record Straight
A recent news story about the state's community behavioral health system has caused some understandable concern. We are in full agreement that there are indeed serious challenges in the behavioral health system that must be addressed, and we continue to advocate for change while we work to care for anyone in Denver who needs our services, from infants to elders.
We are very disheartened by the many inaccuracies in the story, the most troubling of which implied that WellPower looks for reasons to turn people away. This simply is not true, and it does a considerable disservice to the people who have dedicated their lives to this difficult and important work.
WellPower has a 33-year history of providing care to our community.
We work in the community, schools, shelters, churches and courtrooms. We ride alongside police and paramedics to reach people who need our help. And we welcome small children, teens, adults and families from all walks of life into our 35 locations and on-screen via telehealth.
Treating mental illness is the life calling of many of our hard-working and caring staff and we are incredibly proud of the work we do - work that is consistently recognized as among the best and most forward-thinking in the nation. Over the past two years, our 1,000-person team has stepped up to serve our community, help treat mental illness and improve well-being in the most extraordinary of circumstances. We are grateful for their commitment.
To read more and see our detailed response to the article, we invite you to check out our blog post.
1,200+ Trained Statewide in Infant Mental Health
Infant mental health is a very specific niche within behavioral health - an industry that already has a workforce shortage. So, to amp up the number of professionals fluent in the unique needs of children ages birth to 5, Right Start for Colorado provides statewide trainings. The trainings are not only for behavioral health clinicians. They are for other professionals who work with children as well, such as first responders and pediatricians.
Developing a Statewide Workforce in Infant Mental Health
Right Start for Colorado recently wrapped up its third year of operation. Since the program began, more than 360 mental health clinicians and more than 850 allied professionals have been trained in infant mental health.
"There's a lot of great work Right Start for Colorado did over the past grant year, but I think one of our biggest accomplishments that will have a long-term, meaningful impact for young children and families is the launching of our 18-month Child-Parent Psychotherapy Learning Collaborative," said Right Start for Colorado Director Shannon Bekman. "We are training 50 clinicians that serve 30 Colorado counties in this evidence-based, trauma-forward and culturally attuned treatment model."
The learning collaborative also includes a "Training of Trainers" aspect. So, Colorado will continue to have in-state child-parent psychotherapy trainers long after the program's grant ends.
In addition to the learning collaborative, the program also launched another new, clinician-specific opportunity: the Community of Practice. The Community of Practice is a year-long training for Colorado therapists who serve children ages birth to 5.
The Community of Practice offers monthly trainings and supervision/consultation with a seasoned infant mental health mentor. And after completion, participants can implement best practice assessment, diagnosis and treatment of young children and their families.
Presenting on a World Stage
Right Start for Colorado is not only making an impact here in Colorado - the program showcased its efforts at the World Association for Infant Mental Health's 17th World Congress this past summer. The team has been able to share their experience with this unique program with behavioral health professionals in other states.
"We've done so much work. And it was exciting to be able to share that on a world level," Shannon said.
Right Start for Colorado is funded by a 5-year grant provided by the Buell Foundation, Caring for Colorado Foundation, Community First Foundation, Piton Foundation at Gary Community Investments, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Zoma.
Thank You, Volunteers
2021 Volunteers you made a difference!
This past year has continued to be filled with twists as we all continued to navigate our way through the pandemic. Thanks to you, WellPower was able to support the people we serve and our community in ways that our staff could not have done alone. From helping to staff COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics to digging in the dirt and heavy lifting on our Dahlia Campus Farms & Gardens, you helped us power well-being and bring additional resources to those we serve across Denver.
A special thank you to our volunteer community partner, Volunteers of America and their Retired Senior Volunteer Program, who jumped in without hesitation to support our COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics. We are grateful for their partnership and unwavering commitment to passionately give back.
The Dahlia Campus Market Farm benefited from the support of a variety of caring organizations. These volunteer groups helped prep garden beds, compost and harvest. We are grateful to the groups who joined us from the following organizations:
- Citywide Banks
- The Hills Church
- Integer Group
- Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church
- RMH Group
- Marys Academy
- Urban Peak
- Workplace Elements
Thank you volunteers for your gifts of time and talent!
Look for 2022 volunteer opportunities in the next Report to the Community.
Colorado Gives Day Results
Thank you to all our incredible supporters on Colorado Gives Day! This year, we set a goal to raise $40,000 in support of our programs like Gifts of Joy, Mental Health First Aid, NextChapter in Education & Employment, and many more. With the generosity of The Broe Family Foundation, every dollar raised up to our goal is being matched dollar for dollar, in addition to being boosted by the $1 Million incentive fund.
We are pleased to share that we exceeded our goal and raised a total of $44,333 on Colorado Gives Day. Special thanks to The Broe Family Foundation for generously matching the contributions of our other thoughtful donors. These gifts will help us continue to ensure access to effective and compassionate care as we work together to improve the overall mental health and well-being of our community.
There's still time to make an end-of-year charitable gift and support WellPower. We invite you to explore one of the many simple and meaningful ways you can show your support for our organization.
Gifts of Joy
Thank you to everyone who has adopted a residence, donated toys or dollars in support of this year's Gifts of Joy winter gift drive! There's still time to donate dollars to Gifts of Joy to support the gift card program for teens and adults. Financial contributions can be made through December 31 by visiting Donate Now - WellPower (wellpower.org).
Enterprise Zone Tax Credit
The Colorado Enterprise Zone (EZ) program is designed to promote and assist economically distressed areas by offering state income tax credits for donors contributing to non-profits located in these areas. WellPower's rehabilitation program, NextChapter in Education & Employment is located in one of these designated zones to encourage economic growth.
Colorado residents who make a qualifying gift of $200 or more designated for our NextChapter in Education & Employment program may be eligible for a tax credit of up to 25% of their contribution to use against their state income tax.
To make a qualifying gift for the EZ Tax Credit, visit Donate Now - WellPower (wellpower.org) and select NextChapter in Education & Employment as your area of impact.
Combined Federal Campaign
Celebrating its 60th anniversary, the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the official workplace giving campaign for federal employees and retirees. Since its inception, the CFC has raised more than $8.5 billion for charities and people in need. As we recover from the challenges of the past year and work to meet the challenges of 2022 and beyond, CFC pledges make a real and meaningful difference to countless number of individuals throughout our communities. Thank you for considering your support for WellPower (CFC #39579) and helping us ensure access to mental health care in our community.
We invite you to recognize or remember someone special with a gift in their honor or memory. When you provide us with contact information at the time of your gift, we'll send notification of your generosity and remembrance to whomever you designate. Donate Now - WellPower (wellpower.org) and mark "Yes" in the section that asks if your gift is in honor or in memory of an individual or organization. Complete the fields that appear after you click "Yes" and we'll do the rest.
More Ways to Support WellPower
Donate Your Vehicle
Did you know you can donate your car to support WellPower? Partnered with Cars Helping Charities, donors can call into their 24/7 call center at 866-701-CARS (2277), or complete their Vehicle Donation Request form online and select WellPower as the receiving charity. Vehicle donations are tax deductible and Cars Helping Charities will take care of picking up your vehicle after the sale is processed. To learn more, visit Cars Helping Charities.
Support WellPower while shopping on AmazonSmile. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. It's no additional cost to you, no hidden fees, and best of all, it's the same Amazon shopping experience you already know and love. Just follow these simple steps:
- Visit AmazonSmile.com and login with your existing Amazon account information
- Select the orange drop down menu that says Supporting on the top left menu bar and select WellPower as your charity of choice
- Shop to your hearts content and AmazonSmile does the rest
Pro tip: Only purchases made at AmazonSmile.com or through AmazonSmile activated in the Amazon Shopping app will support your selected charity, so make sure to save the link in your favorites bar to continue supporting us every time you shop AmazonSmile.
King Soopers & City Market
Support WellPower when you shop for groceries at King Soopers or City Market! Loyalty card holders can now support our organization in the Community Rewards Program while you shop for everyday groceries online and in-stores.
- Log-in to your account at kingsoopers.com or www.citymarket.com and go to "My Account"
- Select menu option "Community Rewards" and search for WellPower or enter our code VL905
- Click Enroll and continue shopping using your loyalty rewards account!
Pro tip: You can also link your loyalty card and Community Rewards option using the King Soopers or City Market app. Make sure to use your King Soopers or City Market loyalty card or associated phone number at checkout for each purchase to count.