Editorial: Mental Health Awareness Month gives Summit County an opportunity to learn about crucial topic
April 29, 2018
In recent years, Summit County has made tremendous strides in addressing mental health. It's taken an all-out push comprising many sectors of the community, from local governments to school districts to nonprofit organizations.
The result is that we're making progress toward providing the level of services required to meet the issue. As much progress as our community has made, however, we still have a long way to go to get to the level mental health advocates envision: being a place where mental health care is as ubiquitous and accessible as physical health care.
Reaching that goal will take years, but raising more awareness and spreading more knowledge is a critical step. Fortunately, residents will soon have an incredible opportunity to learn about mental health.
CONNECT Summit County, a nonprofit dedicated to mental health awareness, is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month in May by lining up an impressive list of speakers and events to examine the topic in depth. Throughout the month, the organization will hold more than 15 events, each addressing an important aspect of mental health.
The lineup is varied enough that even people who consider themselves knowledgeable about mental health will be able to find an event — or several — that teaches them something new. And residents who know less about the topic will find an eye-opening experience.
The events will cover a range of topics, including the impact of social media on youth, how sustaining concussions can affect one's mental health, and how the opioid crisis fits into the discussion. One of the most intriguing, slated for Wednesday at the Jim Santy Auditorium, will feature diverse Park City High School students participating in an "ask me anything" question-and-answer session. Mental health professionals say it can be difficult for parents to truly know what's going on in their children's lives, so it's an opportunity for adults to hear the unvarnished truth about how mental health issues are affecting students.
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All told, the slate of events is sure to generate a significant amount of discussion within the community. That's essential because, as Admiral James Winnefeld will lay out when he speaks to an audience on May 8, mental health issues don't discriminate based on demographics or status. As vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Obama, he held the second-highest ranking post in the U.S. military — but he couldn't prevent his son's overdose death.
That's a message that's sure to resonate in Park City, where lavish homes line our streets and opportunity abounds — but where mental health problems occur just like anywhere else.
Fortunately, every conversation that happens here helps us better understand mental health. With the events lined up throughout Mental Health Awareness Month, May promises to push us much closer to our goal of being able to address it appropriately.
For more information on the events, including a full schedule, visit CONNECT Summit County's website, connectsummitcounty.org. All events are free and open to the public.