mental health

Courtesy photo

Around this time of year, many of us are thinking about how we can help those who are most in need. We usually think about getting somebody a turkey or some warm clothes. Joining us in the KUER studios is somebody who has an alternative idea about ways you can make an impact. Laura Michalski is the new CEO for The Fourth Street Clinic, which provides health care to homeless Utahns. Michalski comes to Salt Lake City from Chicago, where she worked at the largest free health clinic of its kind in the country.

Tim Slover

The project encourages parents of children with Autism to provide the Unified Police Department with information—like an Autistic child’s name, physical description, and known triggers. Those facts would be passed to the officers responding to an emergency. The goal is to create humane interactions between

   officers and individuals with disabilities. Jon Owen is president of the Utah Autism Coalition. He says a large percentage of children with Autism are prone to wander.  The roster could help those missing be found faster.

Tim Slover

30-year-old social worker Kayelyn Louder has been missing since September 27th. She left her home at the Willows Condominiums in Murray around 7:00pm. and left behind her purse, keys, phone, and dog. Amy

Fugal is Louder’s cousin.

“We’re asking everyone, where you live, to please hang flyers where you live,” says Fugal. “It doesn’t matter if you’re close to her condominium or if you live in a different city. Just please hang flyers wherever you can, to get her face out there even more.”

Andrea Smardon / KUER

Most people who end up in Salt Lake County jail go in with some kind of mental illness or addiction to drugs. While there, they have access to mental health treatment. They usually leave sober, but support services outside of jail are difficult to find. In the final part of our series Last Resort, KUER follows some former inmates to see what happens to them after their release.

Andrea Smardon / KUER

For those in Utah who are addicted to drugs or mentally ill, jail may be one of the only places where treatment is free and accessible. In part one of a two-part series, KUER looks at how Salt Lake County cares for its incarcerated population.

Talking to people outside the Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City, you hear about job losses and the deaths of family members and friends, life events that can derail those who don’t have much of a support system, but you also hear another prevailing strain.

An independent audit of Salt Lake County’s Behavioral Health Services system was released Tuesday. Officials say it validates the county’s move to a managed-care model.  County Mayor Ben McAdams called for the audit last year following news that provider Valley Behavioral Health (VBH) would discontinue service to hundreds of patients due to budget cuts.

Andrea Smardon

Hundreds of people are expected at the Utah State Capitol Thursday afternoon to rally for those with substance abuse and mental health disorders. Advocates will be calling attention to a shortage in public funding for treatment, and they’ll be asking lawmakers to expand Medicaid.

Andrea Smardon

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says an agreement has been reached that will prevent more patients from being dropped from Valley Mental Health’s client rolls.

The Salt Lake County Council has unanimously approved an audit of its mental health care system.  The decision comes after Valley Mental Health announced it would no longer serve hundreds of patients due to a reduction in funding.

Salt Lake County Council Chairman Steve Debry says he and other council members learned that Valley Mental Health would be shrinking its patient rolls by reading the newspaper.

“We were caught off guard and by surprise. To put it mildly, we’re upset with it,” Debry says.  

Mental illness is often difficult for people to talk about, but especially hard if you don’t speak the same language as your health provider. Community groups are coming together in Salt Lake City’s Rose Park neighborhood Tuesday to raise awareness about minority mental health. 

Mary Burchett is the Outreach Specialist for the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI in Utah, an organization that provides free education, support and advocacy. She says minorities in Utah have particular challenges.

Brian Grimmett

 The Utah House Health and Human Services Committee gave a favorable recommendation to a bill that would allow mental health and substance abuse counselors the ability to provide therapy remotely.

Andrea Smardon

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City cut the ribbon Friday on its new Mental Health Outpatient Building.  As troops return from Iraq and Afghanistan, VA officials say the number of combat troops seeking help is growing. 

Steve Young is the Director of Mental Health Services for the VA in Salt Lake City.  He says the building they’ve been operating in for 20 years is basically a bunch of old trailers without wheels.