In a 2021 survey by the organization Mental Health America, Utah ranked 46th in the nation for overall mental health outlook. Coming out of the effects of a Covid-19 lockdown has only intensified mental health concerns.
Clearly, there is some room for discussion, education and treatment among our local community.
“The stigma surrounding talking about mental health is one of the biggest obstacles to receiving the treatment and help patients need,” says Kyle Hansen, administrator of Intermountain Utah Valley Hospital in Provo. “Someone with diabetes or cancer doesn’t tiptoe around their disease. But, when it comes to mental health, we too often do.”
To help bring the issues into the light, Intermountain Healthcare is partnering with a number of other local organizations — including the Utah Valley Chamber, UVU, BluNovus, the United Way of Utah County and Encircle Provo — to host a free Mental Health Awareness Event on Aug. 19, from 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in UVU’s Clarke Building.
“We’re excited to expand on our annual Mental Health Services Awareness Night, which has been a very successful event in the past,” Kyle says. “By partnering with these other great organizations, we’re able to do more things and have a larger impact on the community at large.”
The event will include expert speakers as well as booths highlighting local practitioners, organizations and businesses dedicated to improving mental health in the Utah Valley community.
“This is an opportunity to educate people — especially teachers, employers, ecclesiastical leaders and others — about the resources we have in our community,” Kyle says. “When key people know who is there to help, they are better able to direct people to those resources when the conversation arises.”
The scheduled evening keynote speaker is Dr. G. Sheldon Martin, a licensed mental health counselor and manager of special topics in the Priesthood and Family Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“We will have a wide range of booths, speakers and topics — something that applies to everyone — with a particular focus on the youth,” Kyle says. “We want to help teachers and parents heading into the school year to be equipped with information that will help them.”
Presenters will also discuss mental health in the workplace, with practical advice and resources for employers and employees navigating the post-Covid business world.
“Partnering with the Chamber of Commerce gives us the chance to focus on the business community and how we can create healthier workplaces,” Kyle says.
With the amount of time adults spend at work, focusing on healthy mental outcomes from 9 to 5 means better relationships after hours with friends and family members.
While the event has a few areas of specific focus, Kyle hopes the event will have something for everyone.
“We’re not putting limits on who this is for,” he says. “The truth is, mental illness affects all of us.”
It is especially prevalent among the local LGBTQ+ community, and that is where the expertise and experience from the people at Encircle Provo will be especially important.
“We’re looking to engage with the LGBTQ+ youth and their loved ones,” Kyle says. “We need to do better for them.”
Too often, Kyle hears about patients who have come to Utah Valley Hospital’s emergency room for mental health reasons because they have no other place to turn.
“There isn’t a hospital administrator around who would say an emergency room is the best place for someone to get mental health care,” he says. “It’s not. We need to connect people with the resources they need before it’s an emergency.”
Mental Health Awareness Event
Date Aug. 19, 2021
Location Clarke Building at UVU
Time 3 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Register at https://bit.ly/UVChamber
Online participation also available
• Christena Huntsman Durham & Dr. Mark Rapaport (Opening Keynote)
• Everyday Strong representative from the United Way
• Representatives from Encircle
• Dr. G. Sheldon Martin (Closing Keynote)
Panel discussion on mental health in the workplace
James Hadlock (hosting) with LaRae Wright, Dr. Reza Ahmadi and Marshall Paepke
There will also be informational tables from more than 50 organizations and businesses who offer services for those dealing with mental health challenges.