Wednesday, May 4, Park City Community Foundation’s Mental Wellness Alliance hosted an evening at the Grand Summit Hotel in Park City to bring together folks working in and passionate about the mental health landscape in Summit County. Nearly 100 attendees were joined by three panelists making a difference in the mental health sector in Utah. Javier Alegre with Latino Behavioral Health, Heather Trish with the Katz-Amsterdam Foundation, and Nelson Clayton with University of Utah Health Plans. Moderated by Vice President of Equity & Impact, Diego Zegarra, with support from our Mental Wellness Alliance Coordinator, Linda Graves, and Karen Marriott of the Marriott Daughters Foundation.
A Brief History of the Mental Wellness Alliance
In 2017, a community-wide effort spurred by the death of two teenagers due to substance abuse launched the Mental Wellness Alliance. In 2021, partners and donors identified the need for the Alliance to regain momentum and continue to convene stakeholders to meet mental and behavioral health needs in Summit County. Since then, the Alliance has found a home at the Park City Community Foundation, as we are well-positioned to engage in these efforts as proficient community conveners.
The work of the Mental Wellness Alliance aims at strengthening collaboration, raising awareness of community needs, and creating greater alignment through the tenets of collective impact. This year, the Alliance plans to direct financial assistance to high-priority areas of need in collaboration with other local organizations in the mental health community.
The panelists had an in-depth discussion about equity in mental health, and they also identified the challenges they see in the communities in which they operate. Mental health and substance abuse issues touch us all in one way or another. According to Katz-Amsterdam’s Community Engagement Assessment Survey, 30.8 percent of Summit County residents who reported needing mental health services in the past year were unable to receive services due to cost, perceived availability, lack of time, stigma and shame, not knowing where to go, or refusing help altogether. The Mountain West has been nicknamed the Suicide Belt due to the increased amount of suicide and substance abuse in mountain town communities compared to other parts of the country.
Considering the survey and conversations between mountain town communities and other local nonprofits, the Mental Wellness Alliance and its partners have identified these gaps in our systems in Summit County and the state of Utah.
Folks in our community are engaged in helping and addressing these issues, and collaboration between individuals and organizations will continue to be critical. We must work as a team to agree on realistic and achievable projects with a timeline that has a measurable impact and outcomes in our community. Funding with consistency and purpose will also be essential, as well as creative ideas and open communication. In our small community, we can scale for solutions and create a potential model for other mountain town communities struggling in the mental health sector if we can work together and stay engaged.
Thus far, our community has done great work to get the ball rolling. The Mental Wellness Alliance has been revived. Summit County Clubhouse recently underwent renovation. CONNECT Summit County has convened community leaders to create a directory of services so folks may find resources that fit their needs. Katz Amsterdam Foundation has granted over $300,000 to organizations working in the mental health space. But there is still more work to be done. By standing together, no one will have to suffer alone.
How To Get Involved
Thanks to the generosity of Karen Marriott and the Marriott Daughter’s Foundation, a $50,000 matching gift to the Mental Wellness Alliance is currently in effect. Any donation made to the Alliance until the $50,000 match is met will be made on a 1:1 basis. We believe in this work and encourage all interested folks to join us in our mission by donating a gift that is significant to them at the Mental Wellness Alliance’s donation page.