In September 2016, Grant Seaver and Ryan Ainsworth, both 13-year-old students at Treasure Mountain Junior High School, died within two days of each other due to synthetic opioid overdoses. These tragic events sparked a community-wide response that highlighted a desperate need to create a conversation around mental health.
Subsequently, in 2017, community leaders, organizations, and individuals came together to create the Mental Wellness Alliance, a coalition focused on improving community awareness of mental health and substance abuse in Summit County. Together, the Alliance worked to collectively increase education surrounding mental health, develop prevention efforts, and increase access to effective treatment throughout the community.
As a founding partner of the Mental Wellness Alliance, Park City Community Foundation is recommitting to this work in 2021. Following the successful stewardship by the Summit County Health Department since its inception in 2017, the Community Foundation is proud to announce it is in the process of hiring a Mental Wellness Alliance Coordinator to steward the mission of the coalition going forward.
“[The Community Foundation] is well-positioned,” commented Vice President of Equity & Impact, Diego Zegarra. “We are raising the money, we have the connections and the trust of our partners, so continuing in the spirit of a local convener and infusing equity into the Mental Wellness Alliance, in March (of 2021) we decided to take this on.”
The primary responsibility of the coordinator will be convening the community to plan and implement initiatives, programs, activities, and the like, aimed at improving mental wellness in Summit County. The Alliance itself does not provide any direct services. Rather, it is positioned to identify gaps in service and support throughout Summit County and co-facilitate funding opportunities to fill those gaps in collaboration with partners and community members, adapting and evolving alongside the needs of the community.
Current Alliance partners include the Summit County Health Department, Peace House, CONNECT Summit County, Jewish Family Service of Utah, Summit County Clubhouse, Christian Center of Park City, People’s Health Clinic, Communities That Care, individual community members, and more. As it advances, all interested stakeholders are encouraged to participate in the conversation.
“Our goal is to strengthen the preexisting connections between mental wellness partners in Summit County,” Zegarra added. “We believe in that collaboration, and that the collective impact of furthering community-wide goals goes beyond what any specific organization can do alone, in raising awareness and shining a spotlight on these issues.”
Bringing the Mental Wellness Alliance Coordinator in-house reflects Park City Community Foundation’s commitment to reducing the stigma surrounding mental health while emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in Summit County. The COVID-19 pandemic, current events, and other social issues that have made headlines over the past year and a half are opening new doors to conversations surrounding mental wellness. Whether it be depression, anxiety, languishing, addiction, or any other form of mental illness, Summit County is in a unique position to reignite strength and emphasis on issues surrounding mental health and addiction, having already laid the foundation to do this work in the community.
If you are interested in learning more about the Mental Wellness Alliance Coordinator position, click here.
For resources surrounding Mental Health Awareness Month and toolkits to get started on your Mental health journey, click here.