Gatherings will address mental health and substance abuse |

Gatherings will address mental health and substance abuse

Mental Wellness Alliance seeks input to shape community efforts

Summit County’s Mental Wellness Alliance wants to engage the community to help shape the ongoing efforts to address the gaps in the county’s mental health and substance abuse services.

Since April, the alliance, comprised of several agencies and governing bodies including the Summit County Health Department, has been working collectively to interpret the results of November’s mental health survey. Approximately 1,100 participants responded.

“About 100 people have been working to identify what the data says and what people are seeing,” said Aaron Newman, Summit County’s mental health and substance abuse coordinator.

As part of that initiative, three town hall-style meetings are scheduled beginning Wednesday, Aug. 16, between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Sheldon Richins Buildings. The meetings will allow the community to better understand the strategic directives that have been outlined in the Summit County Mental Wellness and Substance Abuse Strategic Plan, Newman said.

The strategic plan addresses several areas, including access to services, awareness and education of the issue and assurance that the services and programs are accessible for the Latino Community, among others.

“Our goal with this first round is to see if we have we identified the true goals of the community or are there goals out there that we are not aware of?” Newman said. “It’s not really to show them the directives, but to understand what they mean to them. We want to know if we are heading in the right direction or if there are areas that we haven’t even explored yet.”

Additional forums will be held Monday, Aug. 21, and Tuesday, Aug. 22, between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at North Summit Middle School and the South Summit School District Office, respectively.

“This is our first time putting these on so we may have an area where we have 50 people show up and or just a handful, but you have to have a place to start,” Newman said. “As the community becomes more aware of us hosting these discussions, I think, we will start to see an increase in attendance. I have heard positive feedback from people who are excited to be attending these.”

Newman said the next step will be to analyze the community’s feedback and incorporate it into the strategic plan. The alliance will then present the final draft to the Summit County Board of Health on Aug. 28, followed by the Summit County and Park City councils next month.

“The plan is not a one-time shot and then we are done with it,” Newman said. “We will continue to have regular meetings — probably twice a year — as things change. Once we have gone through those presentations the document is really a living document and is not finalized.”

Newman said the plan is not intended to address every issue within the community’s response to mental health and substance abuse. However, he said it is designed to meet the key problems that are commonly faced.

“This is not the Health Department’s plan nor is this really the county’s plan. It is the community’s plan,” Newman said. “We need to have the community be an active participant in attending these meetings and the ongoing assessment. It is truly responsive to the need and the residents.”

The town hall-style meetings will be held from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, at the Sheldon Richins Building in Kimball Junction, Monday, Aug. 21, at North Summit Middle School in Coalville, and Tuesday, Aug. 22, at the South Summit School District Office in Kamas..