Guest editorial: Community rallied for mental health awareness month |

Guest editorial: Community rallied for mental health awareness month

Shauna Wiest, Executive director
CONNECT Summit County

CONNECT’s second annual May Mental Health Awareness Month has concluded with a total attendance of over 2,000 individuals participating in more than 20 community-wide education events.

Thanks to the cooperation and generosity of our community partners and strong media support, CONNECT brought nationally and internationally recognized mental health experts to Summit County. Their talks, panel discussions and films addressed complex topics including suicide prevention, Alzheimer’s disease, postpartum depression, trauma, and opioid addiction. They also focused on maintaining mental wellness throughout life – discussing the importance of healthy eating, sleep, mindfulness, and exercise.

The attendance during Mental Health Awareness Month proves that Summit County residents hunger for help maintaining their own mental health as well as the health of their loved ones. In the past year, the conversation has gone from recognizing the problem to planning solutions. The county, through the public-private partnership of the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance, has drawn together a deep pool of talent and expertise to investigate the most efficient and cost-effective ways to fill the many gaps in Summit County’s mental health services. Alliance committees are wrestling with the complexities of creating a hub from which mental illness and substance abuse can be treated from crisis to recovery. We can expect some preliminary results late this summer.

CONNECT is privileged to have a voice in this process and to help move it along as quickly as possible. Our sense of urgency stems from our own experience that continues to confront individuals seeking treatment in today’s fragmented and inadequate mental health care system. CONNECT continues to receive calls from people across the county who don’t know where to turn: Mothers seeking mental health interventions for their children; addicts in need of a detox and recovery program other than the county jail; parents of adolescents contemplating suicide; and seniors struggling with the crises of Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, for many who suffer, accessing treatment means coming face-to-face with a complicated and burdensome mental health care system.

Too often, our information falls short because too often, adequate services just aren’t there. But they will be, we are confident, and they can’t come soon enough. Park City High School students, who created their own mental health week during May, came up with a powerful mantra: ‘H.O.P.E. – Hold On Pain Ends’. We draw upon their optimism to press forward. Together we will succeed in better serving the mental health care needs of our community.
If anyone reading is struggling, please reach out to someone who can help you. If you don’t have someone, here are several phone numbers that can get you started:

  • UNI Crisis Line: (801) 587-3000
  • Utah Suicide Hotline: (801) 261-1442
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255

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