City and county residents are committed to drug prevention and mental health support efforts
It is time for the hand-wringers and naysayers to step out of the way. We’ve got this. Individuals and ad hoc committees throughout Summit County are stepping up to confront local mental health and drug abuse issues, and they are not going to back down.
From the bar owner who was robbed by a drug-addicted employee to the parents of children whose lives have been irrevocably altered by mental illness, citizens are brainstorming about solutions and demanding resources to ensure they are implemented.
“If we are going to win this battle against drugs and addiction we have to unite and go all in together as a community … we are all in,” said the bar owner.
Local police officers and sheriff’s deputies are receiving special training in de-escalating incidents involving unstable suspects — whether due to mental illness or drugs — and the county attorney’s office is exploring ways to incorporate more treatment alternatives during sentencing rather than incarceration.
In many cases, change is being instigated by the families in the trenches. They are coming forward with their own stories of personal challenges and encouraging others to do the same. They are pressing for resources to train teachers so they can recognize the first signs that intervention is needed, and they are organizing prevention programs for students and their parents.
The Summit County Health Department has been galvanized as well. Even before the deaths of two local students from possible drug overdoses, health officials had begun conducting a mental health survey to assess the needs of community as a whole. Those results will be released soon, but early glimpses suggest that drug use has been on the uptick for some time now.
The issue may slip off the front page temporarily but, thanks to a mounting army of citizens, the crisis has not been forgotten and the effort is not being neglected – what these individuals need, though, is full throated support at the city, county and state levels, including active participation and financial commitments.
The problem is not ours alone — other communities are fighting similar battles, and some say the problems are insurmountable. But it is unlikely those cities and towns can match Park City and Summit County when it comes to joining together for a common cause.
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Our view: According to the Census Bureau, nearly 10 percent of Summit County children lack health insurance. We must change that.