First mental health summit brings leaders from across US to Beehive State

Oct 10, 2022, 5:55 PM | Updated: 8:35 pm

SALT LAKE COUNTYFor the first time, multiple organizations from across the country, who are leading the research for mental health, joined Utah leaders at a mental health summit. It’s the first event of its kind and will last until the end of Tuesday.

Too many in the crowd knew the cost of not treating mental illness like treating any other health issue.

Christena Huntsman Durham watched her sister Kathleen suffer for years from mental illness that showed up in other ways — an eating disorder and later, substance abuse.

Kathleen died by suicide.

“My sister was my best friend,” Durham said. “And I knew that something was not right.”

The resources 10 to 15 years ago were more limited than present day, and the stigma was stronger.

“This is something that affects every single one of us,” Durham said. “Because the stigma is so great that that is the number one reason that people do not get help is because of the stigma.”

Stopping the stigma is, in part, why Durham and her family created the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. It’s also one of the reasons why they brought more than 175 leaders from across the country to the Beehive State.

A representative from the American Psychiatric Association, American Pyschological Association, and other multiple national organizations gathered at the Snowbird Resort for the summit.

Gary Mendell came from the East Coast to join the summit, representing Shatterproof, a company he founded after his son Brian died by suicide.

“My son didn’t see society where as a young man he could develop with his disease, get treated in our healthcare system, get better and live a full and fulfilling life,” Mendell said.

Through tears, Mendell shared how Brian fought drug and alcohol addiction. 

“Four months before he died, he looked at me with a tear in his eye and said, ‘Dad, I wish that someday people would realize that I’m not a bad person. I’m a good person with a bad disease,'” Mendell said. “Brian’s wish has not been granted, but today marks the kick off.”

Mendell created Shatterproof to specifically help those in need of addiction recovery; to help those, like his son, who needed someone to see the good person more than the illness.

Brian and Kathleen are some of the faces behind the data.

According to John MacPhee with the Jed Foundation, a non-profit for young adults and teens in need of mental health support, one in three young adults will experience mental illness each year.

Kristin Kroege with the American Psychiatric Association said 50% of adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

Leaders at the summit committed to stopping the stigma from coast to coast, discussing how to change legislation, even insurance policies.

“I think about my sister every single day and wish we had the tools for her that we had today,” Durham said. “There is so much help out there and that’s what we want to share with people.”

The Huntsman Mental Health Institute announced a 10-year campaign to educate and expand resources for mental health with the leaders at this summit. 

Other resources include:

Suicide prevention resources

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call, text, or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. All calls to legacy crisis hotlines, including the old National Suicide Prevention hotline, 1-800-273-8255, will also connect to a crisis care worker at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute as well.

Additional resources

  • SafeUT: Parents, students, and educators can connect with a licensed crisis counselor through chat by downloading the SafeUT app or by calling 833-3SAFEUT (833-372-33888)
  • SafeUT Frontline: First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare professionals can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app.
  • SafeUTNG: Members of the National Guard can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUTNG app.
  • Utah Warm Line: For non-crisis situations, when you need a listening ear as you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • The Huntsman Mental Health Institute offers a wide variety of programs and services including suicide prevention and crisis services, hospital treatment, therapy & medication management, substance Use & addiction recovery, child & teen programs, and maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
  • is a statewide effort to prevent suicide by promoting education, providing resources, and changing Utah’s culture around suicide and mental health. They offer resources for faith based groups, LGBTQ+, youth, employers, firearm suicide prevention, and crisis and treatment options.

Other community-based resources

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First mental health summit brings leaders from across US to Beehive State