Connect Summit County links the public with virtual and in-person Mental Health Awareness Month events in the Wasatch Back
Schedule includes screenings and panel discussions
Congress officially designated May as Mental Health Awareness Month in 1949 after seeing an increased number of veterans suffering from mental illnesses following World War II.
Since 2016, Connect Summit County, a local mental wellness nonprofit, has marked the month through an array of mental health-centered events including seminars, film screenings and gatherings, said Executive Director Deanna Rhodes.
“May Mental Health Awareness month is critically important to Connect Summit County because it’s what put us on the map,” Rhodes said. “We try to schedule an entire month of activities that are robust and different, because we had so many events that were well received and set the bar high in terms of expectations in the community that first year.”
This year will be no different and Rhodes promised something for everyone.
“Mental health and mental wellness covers such a broad spectrum and not everything resonates with everyone,” she said. “So having a little piece of this and a little piece of that can be helpful in gathering everyone under this big umbrella.”
This month’s slate includes a mix of in-person and virtual events, Rhodes said. (See accompanying schedule).
“Of course, the in-person events will follow COVID-19 protocols that include mask requirements and reduced capacity,” she said
For some of these events, Connect Summit County has partnered with various community organizations, according to Rhodes. Those partners include Park City Film, mental health advocate Summit County Clubhouse and the Hive Collective, to name a few.
Park City Film will partner with Connect Summit County on a Reel Community Series screening of Thor Freudenthal’s “Words on a Bathroom Wall,” on Thursday, May 6, in the Jim Santy Auditorium.
The feature film, based on Julia Walton’s book of the same name, follows a high school student who has been diagnosed with a mental illness and the classmate who inspires him to open his heart and not be defined by his condition.
The film will be followed by a panel discussion with X Games gold medalist Alex Schlopy, who is Connect Summit County’s mental health ambassador; his mother and two-time Olympian Holly Flanders; and psychologist Dr. Xavier Amador, founder of the LEAP Institute, an organization that helps to create trusting relationships, Rhodes said.
“Dr. Amador is a leading specialist who created a technique, called LEAP, which stands for listen, empathize, agree and partner, to deal with people who have anosognosia and schizophrenia,” she said.
Anosognosia is the lack of ability to perceive the realities of one’s own condition, according to Rhodes.
“The method is an incredible and well-received technique that helps people who have a mental illness, but not realize they have a mental illness,” she said. “And this panel discussion will address how you or someone on the outside can support that person.”
The Hive Collective, which is a new hub of resources and education for parents who have recently welcomed a new child, will host a virtual panel titled “It’s OK Not to Be OK: Moving Beyond Postpartum Depression” on May 11, Rhodes said.
The speaker will be another Connect Summit County mental health ambassador, Lizeette Zurita, who is the parents as teachers coordinator at Holy Cross Ministries.
“The Hive Collective reached out to us and said they wanted to be part of Mental Health Awareness Month, and they said they would be thrilled to have Lizeette speak about her experience with postpartum depression,” Rhones said. “We all thought that that would be a cool connection and tie in with Hive.”
Programming a strong Mental Health Awareness Month appeared to be more important this year that in the past, Rhodes said.
“Studies have shown Nearly 45% of adults in the United States reported their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and that 1 in 3 adults now report symptoms of anxiety and depressive disorder due to the pandemic,” she said. “There are so many more people who are experiencing something they have never experienced before. The idea of reconnecting through virtual and in-person events was inspired by people we know who expressed that they didn’t have anxiety before, but now going to the grocery store gives them a lot of stress.”
Another in-person event will be Mental Health in the Park, a May 22 social gathering at Beacon Hill Park in Coalville, Rhodes said.
“There will be free food, an interactive art installation, games and prizes, so hope for good weather,” she said with a laugh.
Hosting an event in Coalville was important to Connect Summit County, Rhodes said.
“We try to reach all parts of the county, and wanted to make a concerted effort to reach the rural parts of the county,” she said. “I feel there has been a lot of support from the North and South (Summit) side of the counties than ever before, and we want to be present for them.”
In addition to these group webinars and in-person events, Connect Summit County has added a 21-day mental health awareness challenge, where people can sign up and choose activities they can do to normalize mental health, Rhodes said.
“They can win prizes throughout May by attending an event, reading a book, listening to a podcast or following community partners on social media — all sorts of fun interactive things,” she said. “We’ve never tried it before, but we already have 200 sign-ups so far.”
Rhodes is looking forward to hosting more in-person events after the coronavirus threw things in disarray.
“Everything we did was virtual, because all the plans we had made fell through,” she said. “So we basically threw things out there to see what would work, and we learned some things throughout the year that would influence what we would do this year. Everyone has mental health. What we want is for everyone to have good mental health.”
• Wednesdays — Summit County Clubhouse Pre-Renovation Tour, 2-3 p.m.
• Thursday, May 6 — “Words on Bathroom Walls,” rated PG-13, screening and panel discussion with Alex Schlopy, Holly Flanders and Dr. Xavier Amador, presented by Connect Summit County and Park City Film, Jim Santy Auditorium, 7 p.m.
• Friday, May 7 — Peace House | “Behind the Doors at Peace House from Crisis to Hope” virtual luncheon and fundraiser, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
• Monday, May 10 — Virtual Time to Re-Connect Community Panel with The Greater You Executive Director Kwinten Kemp, The Greater You Counselor Jana Quilter, Mountain Mediation Center Restorative Justice Team Leader Sam Mekrut and Bright Futures Intern Ana Pantoja, 4 p.m.
• Tuesday, May 11 — “It’s OK not to be OK. Moving Beyond Postpartum Depression” virtual presentation by Hive Collective with Lizeette Zurita, Parents as Teachers Coordinator at Holy Cross Ministries and Connect Summit County Mental Health ambassador, 7 p.m.
• Thursday, May 13 — Virtual Community Book Discussion with Connect Summit County and the Park City and Summit County libraries about Steve Grant’s memoir “Don’t Forget Me: A Lifeline of Hope for Those Touched by Substance Abuse and Addiction,” noon
• Sunday, May 16 — Walk it Out: Hiking with your Mind, Body and Soul, presented by the Christian Center of Park City, at RTS trailhead for ages 12 and older, noon and 2:30 p.m.
• Monday, May 17 — Dr. Christine Montross, author of “Falling Into The Fire,” virtual discussion where Montross illuminates the human costs of mental illness as well as the challenges of diagnosis and treatment, 4 p.m.
• Tuesday, May 18 — Lunch and Learn, Supporting the Mental Health of Employees, presented by Park City Chamber/Bureau and Connect Summit County, 1 p.m.
• Tuesday, May 18 — Ask Me Anything Youth Panel, virtual discussion presented by Communities that Care that will cover Summit County high school students who will share their perspectives on the state of youth mental health and current substance use trends, 5:30 p.m.
• Thursday, May 20 — The Enneagram for Couples Part 2: Understanding the Three Enneagram Instincts, virtual webinar presented by Christian Center of Park City, 7 p.m.
• Saturday, May 22 — Mental Health in the Park, hosted by Connect Summit County and Healthy U, at Beacon Hill Park in Coalville, 1 p.m.
• Tuesday, May 25 — Steve M. Grant, author of “Don’t Forget Me,” in-person discussion, presented by Connect Summit County, Park City Library, Summit County Library and Park City Community Church at Park City Community Church, 4501 S.R 224, 6:30 p.m.
For information, visit connectsummitcounty.org.
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