Mental Wellness: Ensuring a Healthy Future

Park City Community Foundation hosts several Crest Speaker Series events throughout the year, as part of our mission to create an enduring philanthropic community for all the people of Park City. Each event features engaging speakers on topical themes that are relevant to our community.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so for our second Crest event of the year we brought together three experts in the field to update us on the work that has taken place in our community so far and what gaps still remain in services. Park City Community Foundation’s Community Impact Director Ollie Wilder moderated a discussion between Wendy O’Leary of CONNECT Summit County, Roxana Cordova of Jewish Family Service, and Mary Christa Smith of Communities That Care.

Mary Christa Smith is the Communities That Care Coordinator for the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance and her position focuses on the prevention of substance use and suicide among young people. Their work is data-driven and is based on the top three risk factors among youth, including depression, perceived risk of substance use, and parental attitudes toward substance use. Two of their main programs are in response to these risk factors. The Guiding Good Choices classes are aimed towards parents of children ages 9-14 to prevent substance use and depression among young people. QPR training, or Question, Persuade, Refer, gives people the skills to recognize the warning signs of suicide and know how to offer hope and when to get help to prevent suicide.

Roxana is a bilingual counselor at Jewish Family Service and provides counseling services out of People’s Health Clinic to predominantly Spanish-speaking clients. Ellen Silver, Executive Director of JFS, emphasized how helpful it’s been that Roxana is a native Spanish-speaker as the cultural connection builds trust with her clients. Roxana shared many stories of the difficulties her clients face including domestic abuse, the issues and fears surrounding immigration and deportation, the stigma associated with receiving mental health care, and bullying and self-harm among teenagers.

Wendy O’Leary is the Resource Navigation Director at CONNECT Summit County. CONNECT has developed a comprehensive online resource directory and local mental health care provider database. They also coordinate support groups and are launching a new peer navigation services program. The navigation services program will aid and empower friends and family members of people who need help, providing access to resources despite challenges such as affordability, geographic location, diagnosis, age, and homelessness or a difficult living situation. CONNECT Summit County is hosting a number of educational events throughout the month of May for Mental Health Awareness Month, including parent trainings, QPR training, and five free film screenings in partnership with different nonprofits and Park City Film.

Ollie was the perfect fit for moderating this panel as he was instrumental in convening the stakeholders for the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance back in 2016. The initiative was launched after the tragic deaths of two middle school boys due to synthetic opioid use, which was a wake-up call for a full community response. The conversation centered on practitioners who are working on the ground in the mental health field.

Other resources discussed:

  • Safe UT app is an anonymous crisis help text line for youth and adults, and has been popular with teens.
  • Summit County Clubhouse is part of an international model and will be a place for adults with mental illness to gain social and job skills. They are in the process of getting their 501(c)3 status and will  initially be based out of the Christian Center of Park City.
  • A new Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner position will provide much needed medication management services to mental health counseling clients of Peace House, Jewish Family Service, Christian Center, and People’s Health Clinic. The position is still in the process of being hired and was funded by the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.
  • Encircle is a nonprofit organization with locations in Salt Lake City and Provo (and possibly soon in Park City), providing support for LGBTQ+ youth and their families.

While the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance and the many nonprofit partners have made great strides, there is still work to be done. There is a lack of inpatient and detox facilities in Summit County, and many people going through a mental health crisis or substance abuse still end up in the ER.

If you are interested in attending the many events happening during Mental Health Awareness Month, you can find it online here.

Please support the work of the Summit County Mental Wellness Alliance by giving to the Mental Wellness Fund.

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