Mental Health Minute

August 2019

Meet Rudy - EPSD Therapy Dog!

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About Rudy

I wanted to take a moment to introduce you all to Rudy! He is a therapy dog that I will be incorporating into my mental health practice here in our school district. He and I have also been volunteering locally at Estes Valley Library and Estes Park Health. Additionally, I have been working towards my Certificate of Education in Animal Assisted Psychotherapy through Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado. This is a wonderful opportunity to build on the work CSU's HABIC Program already provides to our district -- now more work can be done "in-house" to impact more students while also giving back to the community at large.

Rudy Facts:

-He is a Leonberger/Lab Mix.

-He is American Kennel Club STAR Puppy Certified and on track to become AKC Canine Good Citizen Certified as part of the AKC Therapy Dog Standards

-His mom, Sophie, is a Therapy Dog who serves in Abilene, Kansas as part of The Cedar House. His litter mates are all training as therapy dogs and serving from Texas to Tennessee. His sister is working at Thistle Farms which supports female survivors.

-He lives with me, my fiance, and our other two dogs (it is a full house indeed).

Rudy Rules:

-Rudy will not work with students unless informed consent is gained from students and their parents/guardians. SEE PERMISSION SLIP BELOW.

-Rudy will have on his "Therapy Dog" Bandanna when he is working. Yet please feel free to pet Rudy -- that's what he is here for!

-He will remain with me at all times. Our main traffic areas will be in my office (I am now housed at administration) and shared work spaces within each building where I see students individually or in small groups.

-Rudy will not come to work with me every day. He is a tool in the toolkit of my practice.

-No. Human. Food. Please. (I will have treats with us and I can give you some and you can ask him to do a couple skills for you).

Gentle Reminders:

-Rudy and I are both certified for the animal and human components of animal-assisted therapeutic approaches. Please keep in mind that Rudy's presence is not an open invitation for all (students, staff, community, etc.) to bring in their animals (during school hours or on the weekends).

-It is important that our shared spaces are inclusive as possible and we keep in mind those with allergen concerns or fear of animals! For our part, therapy dogs are required to have regular grooming practices to cut down on dander. We will also be focusing our presence to certain locations in each building (aka my offices). Most importantly, consent is the first step in any type of practice and Rudy will not be used with students where allergens, fear, etc. are concerns. Again, he is simply another tool added to our district tool-belt in the pursuit serving each student where they are at.

Further Learning:

-Want to learn more about the track Rudy and I are going down? Find out here:

-Interested in what the differences are between emotional support animals, therapy animals, and service animals?

-Want to hear about some other schools "going to the dogs"?

Permission Form for Rudy to Work with Your Student

Estes Park School District Receives $100,000 from Larimer County

Remember voting for Ballot Initiative 1A? Your tax dollars are going directly to supporting the social/emotional health of Estes Park Students!

This money will be going towards implementing a Tier 1 Social/Emotional Learning competency-based program at each school, which will include training for staff and tools for implementation and support behavioral health services to students in need through referral. By August 2020 we will be measuring:

  • Implementation and Instruction of Social/Emotional Learning Curriculum
  • Development of a referral system in order to ensure students are provided access to behavioral health services in a timely manner
  • Enhancement of our program evaluation and data tools to better inform practice


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Estes Park Overdose Awareness Day - 8/29/19

Overdose Awareness Day event will be in Estes Park on Thursday, August 29 from 7-10 pm. We will meet at Bond Park and then walk the River Walk to Performance Park where there will be music, naloxone (narcan) training, local resources, speakers and a candlelight vigil. Counselors will be available to support participants as needed.Words here


New Guide Helps Coloradans Achieve Mental Wellness and Recovery

Representatives from the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) and the nonprofit advocacy group Mental Health Colorado announced the launch of the Mental Wellness and Addiction Recovery Guide. The website is a practical, one-stop guide that helps users understand if they or a loved one has a mental health or substance use disorder, as well as where to get treatment and what to expect from various treatment levels. It also offers a comprehensive set of resources explaining the ins and outs of insurance coverage, patient rights, support options for caregivers, and more.

The website ( is the result of a collaborative, yearlong effort on the part of the CDHS Office of Behavioral Health, Mental Health Colorado and a network of behavioral health advocates with lived experience.

The Mental Wellness and Addiction Recovery Guide is a public resource that was created by advocates for anyone looking for information on how to get treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help dealing with one, call the Colorado Crisis Services helpline (1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255) for free, confidential and immediate support. Or visit to learn more.


Colorado Free Days

Soak up the last bits of summer with your budget in mind! Great ideas for families or couples to spend quality time connecting and recharging.

Altruistic August Calendar

This Altruistic August Action Calendar has daily suggested actions to do throughout August 2019 to help you spread a bit more kindness in the world around.

You can download it as an image file for sharing via social media or a PDF file for printing. Pass on to others and help to spread the word

Mental Health Minute Archives

Want to look back at past editions of the Mental Health Minute? You are in luck! It is now possible to look back at past editions click here and scroll to the bottom of the page. Please feel free to share with others!

Hannah Heckerson, M.Ed, NCC, LPCC

I am a professional that believes in the empowerment of youth to create meaningful change in this world. The majority of my time is serving Estes students (and families) through direct service, case collaboration, and case management. I support staff through education, consultation, and resource referrals. I also work with community providers for wrap-around support for individual cases, community events, group offerings, and mental health crisis preparation.