Summit County’s Mental Wellness Alliance to host health summit | ParkRecord.com

Summit County’s Mental Wellness Alliance to host health summit

Event will feature keynote speaker and smaller discussion groups

While members of Summit County's Mental Wellness Alliance have worked tirelessly to take on the mental health initiative, Summit County Health Department Director Rich Bullough says "the community needs to own it now too."

The Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance, comprised of several agencies and governing bodies including the Health Department, CONNECT Summit County, and the Park City and Summit County Councils, has facilitated the ongoing effort to address the lack of mental health and substance abuse services available in the county.

"It can't be just a Health Department or CONNECT initiative," Bullough said. "It has to be owned by the community. If we are going to do that these conversations need to occur.

"Anyone who considers themselves a part of our community in Summit County is welcome to engage us in this," Bullough said. "Everyone I work with, everyone I meet, we all have a story to tell. We need everyone in the county to take ownership of this and I'm hoping these events can generate that.

Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance is scheduled to host a free community event from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, in the Blair Education Center of the Park City Hospital. The event will feature mental health and substance abuse discussions, along with keynote speaker Leon Evans. Evans is the president and CEO of The Center for Health Care Services in San Antonio, Texas. The event will be streamed live on Facebook.

In an interview with The Park Record, Evans said "it's a national tragedy" that people with mental illness often end up in the legal system or homeless.

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"I love to talk about how our community (San Antonio) has come together and our community collaboration and that's one thing I see from your community," Evans said. "These people aren't hopeless, but it's very hard for the general public to understand that."

The event will allow the Mental Health Alliance to update the community about the progress that has been made since the results of November's mental survey were released.

"We know there are folks in the community who are asking how long are we going to plan and when are we going to start doing something and it is important for the community to understand now that we are doing something," Bullough said. "But I also think it is OK to tell the community that we need their help and we need them to engage. I think it is critical that they understand this is about them it is not about us."

Aaron Newman, the Health Department's new mental health and substance abuse coordinator, said the health summit will help launch the Mental Health Alliance's future initiatives.

"We have done the research, but now it is time to move us into that little bit of action," Newman said.

Ollie Wilder, programs director for the Park City Community Foundation, said it is critical for members of the community to participate in the process and become actively involved. The Park City Community Foundation has had a significant role addressing the issue.

"I think it is very important for everyone in the community to have a chance to share their thoughts and ideas because no one organization can do it alone," Wilder said. "Our goal is that by August we will have a preliminary set of recommendations that we can offer to the community."

For more information about the event and to pre-register, go to summitcountyhealth.org/mentalhealth. Registration is also available on CONNECT Summit County's Facebook page.