Mental health organizations will raise awareness during the Juvenile Day Parade
Miners day It’s Monday, and the Park City community is gearing up to put on a show to honor the city’s heritage.
In addition to honoring miners, the annual parade down Main Street will also highlight a range of local individuals, neighborhoods, politicians and non-profit organizations. (See article on page A-1).
The Park Record met with staff and members of two organizations, CONNECT Summit County and Summit County Pavilionwho plan to participate in this year’s parade.
While the parade showcases Park City’s many diverse offerings, these two groups have a similar and remarkable mission: to provide welcoming, accessible and affordable mental health support to all residents of Summit County.
CONNECT Summit County
CONNECT Summit County, a nonprofit dedicated to being “the people’s voice for mental health,” was founded in 2016 after two Park City teenagers died of drug overdoses.
“The community has been devastated,” said Julya Sembrat, Executive Director of CONNECT. “[People] I felt like a vehicle was needed for families, other students, and other community members to come together and focus on mental health.
Sembrat continued that since Park City is such a small town, a lot of people know and care about each other. The founders of CONNECT – Ed and Lynn Rutan – wanted to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health in our interconnected community and educate people about different mental health issues and treatments.
“By sharing the stories and getting the word out about these people, some of whom are well-known athletes or just well-known members of the community, it really helps connect people, hence the name CONNECT,” Sembrat said.
Another aspect of CONNECT’s mission is to help community members access treatment opportunities specific to their own individual needs.
CONNECT “lowers the barriers to receiving any kind of treatment,” Sembrat said. The organization offers people the opportunity “to get the ball rolling, to have a place where they can start their investigation and to have someone to talk to”.
CONNECT’s largest program, its peer navigation service, provides a phone number that people of all ages and backgrounds can call for any mental health issue, whether they are in crisis or looking for community mental health support groups. Although the number is not a 24/7 hotline, CONNECT staff will answer calls during business hours and return all calls made outside of these hours.
“Maybe it’s not a doctor, maybe you want to talk to a licensed social worker [or] a peer support specialist,” Sembrat said. “We have a wide range of people who can help you, and once we get your call, we’ll follow up with you and make sure you get the treatment you need.”
Sembrat continued, “We’re here to help everyone,” including the Latino community. In addition to having a Spanish-speaking program director, CONNECT works with organizations like Latino Behavioral Health and Holy Cross Ministries to break the language barrier and reduce stigma.
CONNECT also provides financial assistance for people who have difficulty paying for treatment by offering up to $85 per hour for a session with a provider.
“Everyone has been affected by the pandemic and also by all these crazy changes we’re seeing in the world right now – our politics, our climate, our economy,” Sembrat said.
With many therapists booked for several months, CONNECT strives to reduce the time it takes for people to establish their first “connection”.
“We have a variety of support groups that we can refer you to, so if you have to wait for a provider, you can get some sort of connection sooner or later,” Sembrat said. “We’re really here to do the work for you.”
Summit County Pavilion
An example of a local support group is the Summit County Clubhouse, whose members and staff also participate in the Miner’s Day Parade. Clubhouse is part of an international non-profit organization that strives to help with the social inclusion and integration of people with mental illnesses into society.
Lindsay Hauptman, a bilingual social practitioner at the Clubhouse, said the organization “encourages the idea that people with mental illness can do things that people without mental illness can do.”
“It’s about ‘giving them that confidence that not only diminishes what they’re being told they can’t do because they have a mental illness, but also makes them feel supported and confident because others people in the clubhouse are also mentally ill and doing these things,” she said.
Clubhouse founding member Matthew Rutan agreed with Hauptman.
“It’s productive in a way that’s not therapy but still helps the mentally ill,” he said. “We get to rise above [stigmas] and feel like a normal person and above all, reintegrate into society,” he said.
Clubhouse is located in a donated house converted to office space at 6304 Highland Drive. Other than being 18 or older and having a diagnosed mental illness, there are no other membership requirements. Clubhouse programs are free for participants to come and go whenever they want.
“Clubhouse has a lot of opportunities for all types of needs,” Hauptman said. “Whether it’s just to go to the clubhouse that day and that’s all you can do, and that’s enough, or if you want to come and do an activity like go to Nuzzles and Co. to play with dogs, or come and play games in the afternoon just to feel less alone We don’t have to talk about your mental illness, or we do if you want to, but there really is a community host here who will appreciate and appreciate you no matter what.
Clubhouse wants to bring people out of their shells, Rutan added.
“We try to go out in society because it’s healthy for mental health,” he said.
Besides activities, Clubhouse members can also participate in “work order day”, in which members are “in the clubhouse, doing clubhouse work”. Members prepare their own lunches and perform tasks that Rutan describes as enabling you to be “CEO or CFO of your own company.”
“Here you are respected and welcomed for your skills and we try to optimize that,” Rutan said. “We can see each [member’s] the story comes out and up, and they are good stories.
For Clubhouse and CONNECT, the main message is that it’s important to get out there and talk to people who can help, no matter how difficult that may be.
“The scariest thing about mental illness is that feeling of loneliness which then leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy of isolation,” Hauptman said. “Get out of the basement. As hard as it is. Go out and do something.
On the Miners’ Day Parade, hanging out is exactly what CONNECT and Clubhouse will do.
“If you can be strong enough to make that first connection, it lightens your load,” Sembrat said. “These small steps really make a difference. Just talking to another human being who can tell you that you are appreciated and worth it, and you should do it for yourself because you matter is sometimes all someone needs. ‘To hear.
“We spread the message of inclusion,” Rutan said. “Coming out during the parade and sharing this message with the community is great fun.”