2021 was the year of mental health advances for the community. Several new groups, centers, and businesses came to the county, spoke out, and aimed to remove the stigma associated with mental health conditions and substance use, while providing support for those struggling.
The year started out strong in February when MATR Behavioral Health, which stands for “Measures of Affect Theoretically Relative,” opened an addiction treatment and mental health facility at 58 S. Main Street in Tooele City.
“Residents of the county and people in the drug and court system say they are thankful for more options,” Randy Palmer, outpatient director for MATR Behavioral Health told the Transcript when the facility opened. “For a long time, there were only one or two options in the county to treat addictions and mental health. People need a choice where to get treatment.”
Also in February, the Transcript Bulletin visited a new addiction recovery group.
The group is called Beyond Addiction Mosaic and is originally based out of Salt Lake City.
At the group, which meets on Saturdays at 3 p.m. at the New Life Youth Center located next to Zacatecas Market in Tooele, attendees have a safe space to talk about living with an addiction and addiction recovery.
“Tooele is number two in overdose deaths in cities in Utah,” McDonald said. “There is definitely a need for this out here.”
The Life’s Worth Living Foundation continued their efforts to prevent suicide and help those living with mental illness. In April they held their fifth annual Walk to Wendover.
The journey was 100 miles and took two days, and the purpose of the walk was to raise awareness, prevent, and help those heal who had dealt with suicide in one way or another.
Jon Gossett, founder of the Life’s Worth Living Foundation, said his favorite part of the walk is emphasizing other walker’s stories.
“Everyone has a story and all of the stories suck,” he said. “They’re terrible. Seeing those tears of others sharing their stories makes you think, you know what? You can get through this.”
The Foundation also hosted a recovery event in August to help remove the stigma from drug addiction and recovery.
The event featured two speakers — Ed Hansen, one of the founding members of the Foundation, who spoke about the effect having a family member living in active addiction had on his life and Casey Scott, who talked about his own alcohol addiction.
In September, the Tooele Valley Health Alliance, consisting of four local businesses, held their first Elevate your Health festival at the Stansbury Park Clubhouse.
During the event, physical health was discussed, but mental health was a priority. Topics discussed included: healing after trauma and suicide prevention.
Also in September, the Tooele Rural Opioid Healthcare Consortium, a group affiliated with Utah State University, held a dinner and luminary event to educate the community about opioid abuse, provide relief for those in active opioid addiction, and to honor loved ones lost to addiction.
“People can go from one end of the [addiction] spectrum to the other side of the spectrum and you may never know it’s the same person,” said Jennifer Peatross, marketing lead for the Consortium at the event. “By continuing to use works like ‘junkie’ and ‘addict’, and ‘worthless, people tend to stay in that [addiction] realm and it’s a lot harder for them to ask for help or seek recovery.”
In October, Liz Stone, who owns the Balanced Stone, one of the businesses in the Tooele Valley Health Alliance, expanded her business from a small rock shop to a trauma healing center.
The center, located at the Horsley Orthodontics building at 156 E 2000 North in Tooele, is a community gathering place for those struggling to heal from all kinds of trauma.
The healing center offers eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy neurofeedback that can help with PTSD.
The center also offers sound therapy, mind-body integration, and other classes.
Also in October, it was announced in the Transcript Bulletin that the Family Support Center, a Utah-based non-profit aimed at preventing child abuse, strengthening families, and protecting children by providing services for low-income and single-parent households is coming to Tooele next year.
The Center will provide classes and groups teaching parenting skills, promoting healthy emotional development, and teach role and developmental expectations. They will also host a program that offers housing for single-parent families who want to move from dependency to self-sufficiency and offer therapy.
In December, law enforcement officers and other first-responders, along with mental health workers and substance abuse professionals gathered at the Tooele Technical College to collaborate, train, and network on substance abuse and mental health in the county.
The two-day meeting focused on state and local updates in harm reduction, along with learning about local community resources related to active addiction and mental health, and how to use them.
During the event, Steve Barrett, operations manager at Valley Behavioral Health in Tooele spoke about the importance of the Tooele County Mobile Crisis Outreach Team.
The team responds to calls related to any kind of crisis where the individuals involved may need mental health help, including homicides, suicides, mental health emergencies, and substance abuse.
“We handle any kind of crisis,” Barrett said.