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Front Page » September 28, 2004 » Local News » Futures Seeks County Acceptance for People with Mental Di...
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Futures Seeks County Acceptance for People with Mental Disorders

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Sun Advocate reporter

Mayor Joe Piccolo signs proclamation.

One in 10 children in the United States suffers from a mental disorder severe enough to cause some level of impairment, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). To counteract this trend, though, a local organization, Families United Through Understanding and Respect of Each Others Strength (FUTURES), is seeking to educate Carbon County residents on the need for support and treatment for children with mental, physical and emotional challenges.

FUTURES is a southeastern Utah based group with support in Carbon, Emery and Grand counties. According to Carbon County chapter representative Amy Nicholson, it is a community's responsibility to get involved.

"The blame game is getting really old," she commented. "There are people who don't ever receive the proper treatment and are unable to lead healthy, productive lives."

It is especially necessary to aid children in getting support and treatment. In the past 20 years, intervention in the field of children's mental health has steadily shifted from institutional-based care to community intervention, according to a collaborative report by the Surgeon General and the NIMH. This shift in responsibility has made being an informed and involved community more essential than ever.

"Spanning roughly 20 years, childhood and adolescence are marked by dramatic changes in physical, cognitive, and social-emotional skills and capacities," the report states. "Mental health in childhood and adolescence is defined by the achievement of expected developmental cognitive, social, and emotional milestones and by secure attachments, satisfying social relationships, and effective coping skills. Mentally healthy children and adolescents enjoy a positive quality of life; function well at home, in school, and in their communities; and are free of disabling symptoms of psychopathology."

Nicholson, with the help of fellow FUTURES representative Debbie Sartori and other, has been actively pursuing a recognized Mental Illness Awareness Week for the cities in Carbon County.

The Mental Health Awareness Week proclamation, which was signed on Sept. 24 by Price City Mayor Joe Piccolo, states that increasing public awareness of severe mental illness will promote greater access to effective treatment for those who suffer from the potentially disabling symptoms of the disorders. The mayors of Helper, Wellington, East Carbon and Sunnyside have also been presented with the same proclamation, which Nicholson and Sartori hope they will show support for.

Mental Health Awareness Week, which will take place Oct. 3-9, will address the following issues to help improve mental health understanding in the area:

•Where as, mental health is essential to health, every individual, family and community must understand that mental health is an essential part of overall health and we must increase suicide prevention by reducing the social discrimination of seeking care;

•Where as, it is essential to eliminate disparities in mental health by promoting well-being for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, language, place of residence or age and ensure equity of access, delivery of services and improvement, of outcomes, through public and private partnership to ensure culturally competent care to all;

•Where as, consumer and families must have the necessary information and the opportunity to exercise choice over their care decisions, including individualized plans of care, expanded supported employment, enhanced rights protections, better criminal and juvenile justice diversion and re-entry programs, improve access to housing and end chronic homelessness;

•Where as, every individual must have the opportunity for early and appropriate mental health screening, assessment and referral to treatment;

•Where as, adults and children with mental illness must have ready access to evidence-based best treatment, services and support leading to recovery;

•Where as, the mental health care system must inform consumers, providers and public policy with quality, accessible and accountable information supporting improved care and information dissemination.

The theme of Mental Illness Awareness Week 2004 is Unity Through Diversity. A kickoff on Oct. 2 at the Carbon County School District offices will include a community panel of concerned citizens and specialists on mental disorders. The open forum discussion will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nicholson and Sartori said they hope that by bringing Mental Illness Awareness Week to the community, people will know that support and treatment is available.

"Support Mental Health Awareness Week, get involved, make a difference," Nicholson concluded. "It doesn't take that much to get involved in someone's life."

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