Letters to the Editor, April 27-29, 2016
Mental health survey will help ensure services meet local needs
Virtually every one of us has been affected by mental illness, either with a friend, a family member or ourselves. About 20 percent of our population, one person in five, is facing a mental illness issue at any given time. And, they are equal opportunity diseases, crossing all ethnic, racial, religious and gender lines. If you are unscathed by the diseases, consider yourself very lucky.
The diseases are Schizophrenia, Schizo-Affective, Manic-Depressive (bi-polar), Major Depression, Anxiety Disorders (includes PTSD and phobias), and Obsessive-Compulsive disorders. About 90 percent of suicide attempts are precipitated by a mental illness. Addiction disorders are frequently a consequence of the attempt to self-medicate one of the diseases.
For many years these mysterious afflictions have been swept under the rug. They are scary. Who knows when or why these problems erupt? Well it is time to destigmatize them, treat them and recognize them for what they are. They are diseases of the brain that are capable of being treated and getting recovery. One thing they are NOT is the result of a character defect. So, it is time for us to deal with them in a constructive manner.
We know it is difficult to access information, services and treatment for these diseases. We know there are barriers to and gaps in service. We are trying to identify those barriers and gaps and mitigate them.
To that end the Summit County Health Department is conducting a Mental Health Awareness Survey. We have about 38,000 people in Summit County. We are hoping that a significant percentage of those folks will complete the survey. The survey will be widely disseminated at businesses, churches and community groups. They also will be provided to South Summit, North Summit, Park City and Snyderville Basin areas. So, both the West and East sides of the county will be included. We need your participation in order to have a statistically significant result.
THE SURVEY IS ANONYMOUS. It will take no more than 10 minutes of your time as for the most part it is in a "check-the-appropriate-box" format. There are opportunities to elaborate on issues in the survey but they are completely optional.
PLEASE TAKE IT! You will be assisting your fellow citizens throughout our county. Perhaps we can make it both a more economically effective and humane place for those experiencing the effects of these diseases.
The survey can be found online at: surveymonkey.com/r/summit-health.
As an aside, be aware that May is national Mental Health Awareness Month. If you have an issue with one of the diseases, a specific program during the month most likely will address it. Programs include depression, suicide prevention, substance abuse etc. As the State Farm advertisement says, "We’ve got you covered."
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Awareness, early intervention critical for dyslexic kids
A huge "thank you" to Jackie Blake and Elissa Aten of PC READS for bringing Dyslexia for a Day to Park City. Thanks also to Ty & Karen Hall whose Foundation funded this enlightening and encouraging program presented by the co- founders of the Dyslexia Training Institute of San Diego.
As a person who has advocated for family members with dyslexia, I also appreciate the many teachers and school personnel who gave their time to learn more about the varied ways dyslexia presents in the classroom. With 15-20 percent of students having some form of dyslexia, these teachers recognize that they are the first line of defense to identify a need for intervention. Specific remedial intervention for dyslexia in the first years of learning to read has been shown to increase needed neural pathways in the verbal processing area of the brain of students with dyslexia. Students become able to read which increases love of learning, performance and self-worth.
I hope that Park City Schools will use the advances in early intervention reading programs to both address the unique learning needs of dyslexic students and as an opportunity to be a leading example in dyslexia intervention. If you have concerns about your child’s reading, more information and support can be found at parkcityreads.org.
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