2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

‘Do more’ to combat mental illness, award recipient says

Published: October 15, 2013, 2:21 pm, by Jakob Rodgers

The recent headlines depicting horrific mass shootings across the nation point to a glaring problem, Lori Jarvis-Steinwert said.

Too often, she said, the nation fails to properly prioritize mental health care.

“We still want to blame someone anyone for diseases that are common and sometimes curable with the right treatment and support,” said Jarvis-Steinwert, during a speech Tuesday at The Broadmoor. “From Newtown to the Navy shipyard, we’re reminded that we can — and we must — do more for those who suffer from this disease than isolation and desecration.”

On Tuesday, Jarvis-Steinwert received the 2013 Hero of Mental Health award from AspenPointe, a nonprofit organization focusing on behavioral health care across the Pikes Peak region. The award recognizes people who have made an impact in raising awareness of mental health issues.

In 2011, Jarvis-Steinwert became the first executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Colorado Springs chapter. Ever since, she’s doubled the number of programs available by the organization, while quadrupling its budget, according to a statement by AspenPointe.

AspenPointe officials gave the award to her at the nonprofit’s annual luncheon Tuesday. The luncheon funds AspenPointe’s Mental Health First Aid program, which features eight-hour training sessions that teach a five-step process for dealing with a mental health crisis.

Next on Jarvis-Steinwert’s agenda: A series of forums that aim to help health care providers better serve people struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues.

She knows that she can’t completely eradicate mental health issues across the Pikes Peak region.

“But we can teach people how to cope and give them practical tips for the journey,” Jarvis-Steinwert added. “We can also help them take care of themselves along the way.”