Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
Michele Lueck | Partners for Children’s Mental Health
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
I’m Michele Lueck (she/her) and I serve as the executive director of Partners for Children’s Mental Health (PCMH). PCMH is a community-facing center established by Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine to improve youth mental health in Colorado.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
I came to PCMH in late 2022 after a long tenure as the president of the Colorado Health Institute, an organization focused on advancing policies and practices that make a positive impact on the health of our state. PCMH offers me an opportunity to dive deep into one of the most, if not the most, pressing issues of our time: the mental health and well-being of our children. I believe we must do better for our kids in terms of the mental health services available to them and in terms of preventing mental health crises and acute illnesses in the first place. Through this work, I believe we can improve the lives of our children and teens.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Nearly one-third of Colorado youth do not have an adult they can go to for help with a serious problem. Through trainings and programs, PCMH aims to give “trusted adults” – especially in schools and primary care – the knowledge, skills, confidence, and resources to address the youth mental health crisis. We have trained thousands of youth-serving professionals to increase their capacity to identify, intervene, and support a kid at risk for suicide. As a center, we are implementing what we know works, while also accelerating research to expand what we know.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
I tend to think of this question in two ways. The “Big I” Inspiration are those policy giants and visionaries who lead the national charge – the late long-time policy visionary Alice Rivlin, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and astute journalists like Matt Richtel top my list. The “Small I” Inspiration is equally important – the trusted adults in every school, community, ball field, swimming pool, theater, coffee shop, and beyond who know their impact – big or small – as trusted adults who engage with teenagers. They are also a source of tremendous inspiration.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
PCMH’s vision is a future where all children and youth have the mental health care and support they need to thrive.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
Our challenge at PCMH is to make a difference and support the tremendous work already occurring across the state. The simple question is what must we do to change the trajectory of youth mental health in Colorado, and the simple answer is everything. Figuring out how to be additive and complementary to all the efforts underway while bringing to our communities the best and most innovative programs and services is our current challenge.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Colorado faces an unprecedented youth mental health crisis. Today, suicide is the #1 cause of death among middle and high school students. More than a third of Colorado high school students feel sad or hopeless. Among LGBTQ+ youth, that number doubles. This work is critically important and urgent. All of us can – and must – do our part.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
Be the solution.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
It will take all of us to create a culture where every kid can thrive, both physically and mentally. Anyone can make a difference. Take a suicide prevention training, get involved in our programs, check in with that neighbor kid of yours, or engage with young people at your place of prayer or play. We are all in this together.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We help purpose-driven organizations launch or up-level their PR program by giving them the strategy, resources, and support they need to increase awareness and expand their impact. If would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.