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Major Depression Disorder & Utah Occupations

It’s no surprise that major depression disorder is impacted by the type of job someone has. Stressful situations, unhealthy habits, and socio-economic status are all places where occupation and depression intersect. What’s more, many Utah-based occupations present more challenging environments than the average job. By taking a look at these points of intersection, we hope to help more Utah residents recognize and get help for their depressive symptoms.


Statewide Economic Factors

Before we get started, however, it’s worth noting that unemployment is among the highest risk factors for depression—especially long-term unemployment. Utah’s generally strong economy can create blinders for the areas in which residents do struggle financially and occupationally. Moreover, beyond long-term unemployment, it’s getting harder and harder to find summer jobs. These disappearing jobs disproportionately affect young people, who are just entering the risk window for adolescent depression.


Utah Occupations with High Rates of Major Depression Disorder

In cross-referencing KSL’s top 10 popular Utah professions and Health.com’s 10 professions with the highest rates of depression, there is a lot of overlap:

  • Salespeople: It really depends on the type of sales job, but a lot of it can be thought of as Willy Loman syndrome: Travel, income uncertainty, and rejection may work together to create a toxic mix of physical and mental stressors.
  • Nursing: This is the quintessential “thankless” job. Performing personal care services and administrative duties in a setting surrounded by people who are sick has a tendency to take its toll.
  • Food Service: A combination of physical demands, low pay, and social stress make many servers and restaurant workers prone to depressive symptoms.
  • School Teacher: Teaching is a career with incredible rewards but a high burnout factor. It’s telling that a loss of interest and fulfillment in formerly pleasurable activities is one of the primary characteristics of major depression disorder.
  • Cleaning & Maintenance Workers: These types of jobs can present a high-risk for depression especially when the pay is low, the work is done alone, and late-night or on-call shifts are involved.
  • Truck Drivers: Okay, this one isn’t on the Health.com list, but it is an occupation in Utah that’s commonly linked to depression. This study found a much higher prevalence for truck drivers and depression (13.6 percent) than the general population.


The Chicken and the Egg

We must careful about how we think about Utah occupations and major depression disorder. While it’s certainly possible—even likely—that occupational settings are a big contributor to depressive symptoms, it could also be the case that people who already prone to depression tend to gravitate toward certain careers.

What You Need to Know about Manic Depression in Utah

Also called bipolar disorder, manic depression is a mood disorder in which an individual swings uncontrollably from periods of depressed mood to periods of elevated mood. Rather than general moodiness, however, these periods are exaggerated and typically last anywhere from a few days to several months. Still, there are a number of the mental disorders and medical conditions and controlled substances that can mimic these conditions.

Thus, the first thing a lot of Utahans want to know about manic depression is: Do they or someone they know have it? You can learn more about bipolar subtypes and symptoms here, but there are also a number of local Utah factors that may come into play.


Social Pressures vs. Social Resources

Family and other social groups may react in all sorts of ways to an individual who is not acting like themselves due to manic depression. Likewise, an individual may be reluctant to recognize that they are not acting like themselves potentially because of a mental illness. Any number of circumstances may create a stigmatizing environment that makes it more difficult to access treatment.

The initial onset of any mental disorder is often a disruption to daily life, but in the end, these social connections often serve more as a resource than a hindrance. Specifically by helping to monitor a change in behavior and by participating in mental health therapy recommendations, family members and close friends can be a life-saver.


The Indoor-Outdoor Dilemma for Manic Depression

It’s no wonder that many long- and short-term residents of Utah have a strong affinity for the outdoors and mountains. Yet, suicide rates are positively correlated with living at higher altitudes. And there is a growing community of scientists who believe that hypoxia is the prime culprit. Moreover, the effects of lower oxygen on serotonin and dopamine may be of special concern to someone with bipolar disorder in Utah.

The trouble is that it’s tough to say what the most appropriate response is: Staying in the Salt Lake Valley or other low-lying areas with cold-weather air pollution isn’t exactly a mood-stabilizer for most people. Neither is staying cooped up all day in the house. On the other hand, this information might give pause to someone with a mood disorder who is planning on spending an extended amount of time at higher elevations.


Treatment Tendencies

In Utah, there seems to be a higher use of antidepressants, despite average rates of major depression overall. There are a number of reasons why this might be the case, including the possibility that individuals are more likely to seek help from a physician than a mental health professional. The thing is certain types of antidepressant use can be downright dangerous for individuals with manic depression. Physicians typically screen patients for bipolar disorder before prescribing medications, but with an unpredictable course of this disorder, it may take some time to distinguish bipolar from major depression.


Be Honest with Your Utah Health Professional

This is commonsense advice of course, but the point here is that the stakes are sky-high. Failing to answer some questions truthfully may make it more difficult for a clinician to identify a manic episode or to distinguish bipolar symptoms from those of schizophrenia, borderline personality, ADHD, or other mental disorders.


Better Meditation Therapy for People in Utah

Meditation is the practice of reflection and present awareness. It is typically characterized by concentrating on a single stimulus—breathing, a candle flame, a soothing voice—as a way to quiet the mind and achieve a state of relaxed focus. The practice is correlated with a number of physical and mental health benefits including:

  • Improved, stabilized mood
  • Increased capacity for concentration
  • Lower levels of cortisol, stress, and anxiety
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Better cardio-vascular health (blood pressure, heart rate, circulation)
  • Better neurological health


Who can Meditate?

The easiest way to introduce yourself to meditation is to give it a try. Though some take to it more naturally than others, anyone can meditate with practice. In fact, those who struggle at first may end up discovering the most satisfying results. Other people may not discover a lifelong love and yet be better for the experience anyway. If you’ve been struggling with a lot of anxiety or panic attacks, for example, here’s a personal account we recommend to better understand how the meditative experience may interact with your mental health.


Who has Time to Meditate?

It could be work, family, the church, or any number of hobbies, many people in Utah will recognize how little time they have. We’re not going to make blanket statements about how you should prioritize your life. Plus, there are a lot of ways to potentially strengthen your mental health. But for those who do find enjoyment in mediation, it’s a good idea to stay in the habit. Much like physical exercise, even a few minutes every day is better than nothing.

That said, we also suggest you take stock of how much you’re getting out of your time, especially in comparison to the past. When a crappy mood, lack of concentration, crushing self-doubt, manic episode, or overwhelming anxiety cause serious disruption to your life, it may be time to talk to a mental health professional about creating a more comprehensive plan to restore your mental health.


Religious and Spiritual Meditation

A lot of people in Utah have questions about the religious significance of meditation. While the practice is common in Buddhism, know that the vast majority of religions and religious communities believe the practice to be a positive spiritual influence. LDS members can find a discussion of meditation’s spiritual value from church leaders, as well as specific tips from Mormon Life Hacker. Here are a selection of Biblical scriptures that speak to meditation, as well as a general guide for using religious mantras.

Religion not your thing? There doesn’t need to be any religious significance at all for the practice to work. The solitude of the mountains beckons to people of all faiths. Even those people who are put off at first by the new-age, pop culture, overhyped branding of meditation practices are often surprised by the result of their meditation. In fact, a big reason for the hype is the growing research that supports earlier claims about the benefits of meditation and a new wave of secular-minded individuals who are giving it a try.


Advanced Techniques and Licensed Therapists

While you may prefer mantra-driven meditations, it’s worth pointing out that many meditation experts claim the most powerful meditative states are reached in silence. If you’re feeling apprehensive anyway, it’s usually not recommended your first time out. On the other hand, if you can’t find a quiet room in the house and you have a chance to go up into the mountains or find some other quiet spot, you may relish the idea. Trained mental health therapists can also integrate a number of different meditation techniques into a more structured and personalized therapy plan, especially for the treatment of a specific mental health problem.

Higher Rates of Major Depressive Disorder in Utah a Myth

A lot of people think that Utah is one of the most depressed states in the country, but in fact, it’s right at the national average. According to the Utah Department of Health, the prevalence rate for major depressive disorder is 4.2 percent in Utah and nationally. This means that, at any given time, about 4 percent of the state’s residents are depressed. (About one out of every ten Utah residents will go through a major depressive episode each year, and one out of every five residents will do so at some point in their lifetime.)


Popular Misconceptions about Major Depressive Disorder in Utah

Utah shows up near the top of a lot of lists for most depressed states. It’s an issue of data selection and methodology. Due to the inherent difficulties in researching the prevalence of major depressive disorder, there a lot of studies like this one that look at antidepressant use, mental health treatment, suicide rates, and other general information. The thing is these correlating factors serve as a poor substitute for rates of depression that are rigorously calculated through randomly selected populations and statistical analysis.

What’s more, there are many reasons why these correlating factors may be an especially poor method for Utah.


Antidepressant Use and Standards of Care: According to one Ogden psychiatrist quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune, northern Utah’s especially high rate of antidepressant use can be linked, in part, to Intermountain Healthcare’s effort to integrate mental health services with its primary care model. In other words, rising rates of antidepressant use reflect the fact that we’re doing a better job of providing help to the people who need it.

Religion and Self-Medication: There is a solid amount of evidence to suggest that religion and antidepressant use are correlated, but there is no shortage of plausible theories about why this is the case. The one that seems most convincing to us is that lower rates of alcohol use are also correlated with these groups. Thus, religious groups tend to use antidepressants more because they’re less likely to self-medicate. You can see a fuller treatment of this discussion here.

Mental Health Stigmas: Meanwhile, rates of talk therapy are often downplayed overall in calculating rates of major depressive disorder. As laudable as it is, Utah’s culture of self-reliance and industriousness doesn’t do us any favors when it’s time to ask for help from a qualified mental health therapist. Utah residents may be especially likely to seek help from a medical doctor instead.

Cost and Insurance Coverage: On a similar note, the health insurance statistics for Utah suggest that, in addition to a slightly higher rate of coverage overall, Utah has an especially high rate of coverage for employer-sponsored plans. These plans frequently include stronger benefits. Compare this with the coverage and out-of-pocket costs for seeing a therapist on a weekly basis.

Dual-Diagnosis and other Mental Illness: Utah also shows higher rates of diagnosis and mental health services for other types of mental illness. Not only are antidepressants sometimes prescribed for anxiety, OCD, pain, PTSD, and off-label uses, but the 2010 report on Antidepressant Use in Utah showed that the highest rates of antidepressant use were for people with two significant, chronic diseases.


Get Help for Major Depressive Disorder in Utah

State-wide statistics may seem especially important to someone struggling with their own course of major depressive disorder, but these prevalence rates, treatment patterns, and cultural influences can be instructive as individuals seek help for their depression and decide whether to see a therapist or a doctor. We also encourage you to look for local resources in your neighborhood.

Utah Mental Health Questions: What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder in which an individual swings unpredictably and uncontrollably between mania and depression. More than just having a roller coaster of a day, however, these two poles of mood take turns as a persistent, potentially dangerous state for the individual. Know that the times of being depressed and the times of being manic are often asymmetrical and dynamic. Put another way: the periods of depression and mania may be experienced with different levels of duration, different levels of severity, and with a different characterization from the previous episode.


What is Bipolar Disorder vs. How is it Diagnosed?

All in all, it’s not too difficult to understand what bipolar disorder is, but the catch is there’s a big difference between understanding the disorder conceptually and recognizing an individual presentation. And there are several reasons for this:

1) There are a number of mood dysregulation, personality, and developmental disorders that may present with wild mood swings, which can masquerade as bipolar disorder. These masquerading effects may also be caused illicit or prescription drugs or certain medical conditions.

2) Not enough time has passed: A bipolar diagnosis requires a sustained and characteristic episode of both mania and depression. A clinician may make a partial diagnosis when it appears a course of bipolar disorder has begun, but the full criteria are not yet met.

3) Mood swings are normal within a certain range and frequency. Likewise, both depressed and elevated moods may be a normal and temporary reaction to present circumstances.

4) At the same time, circumstances may serve as a trigger for manic and depressive episodes of clinical significance. Sometimes, these circumstances create rationalizations for behavior and, thus, may delay the diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder.

5) An individual seeks help during periods of normal mood. Mental health professionals are well trained to tell the difference between normal mood swings and those associated with bipolar disorder. When it’s not possible to witness these moods in an office setting, the clinician must, in part, rely on reports from the individual, friends, and family.


Symptoms and Risk Factors in Utah

No matter where you live, this disorder often runs an unpredictable course, but there are a few things about living in Utah that can potentially make the situation worse. For one thing, Utah’s elevation is correlated with a higher suicide rate. Cultural factors in the state can create a stigmatizing environment that may lead to an untreated disorder or a lack of proper supervision in association with antidepressant use. Large swaths of rural areas also make it more difficult for some residents to access urgently needed health services.


Am I Bipolar?

When Utah residents ask: what is bipolar disorder, often the follow-up is do I have it? We’re glad you asked, but we can’t tell you. Or rather, as we’ve been explaining, it’s important that neither you nor we make too many assumptions before talking to a qualified mental health professional. Plus, beyond a simple yes-or-no diagnosis, a clinical assessment can:

  • Reveal the type and the severity of the mood disorder.
  • Provide preliminary psychoeducation and help accessing available resources.
  • Offer individualized recommendations for treatment and self-monitoring.

Keep in mind, too, that assessment and therapy services can be life-saving whether an individual is struggling with bipolar disorder or some other mental health issue.


More Resources from Mountain Mental Health

To learn more about what bipolar disorder is, you can visit other pages on bipolar symptoms and the common subtypes of this disorder.


How to Take Stock of Depression Symptoms in Utah

Many Utah residents initially take stock of their depression symptoms is in the days and weeks after a poor mood first sets in. Either the individual believes that their mood will not improve on its own, or the symptoms worsen and develop into an urgent mental health issue. To this latter point, if depression poses a serious risk of suicide or disrupts basic activities of daily living, it’s time to seek an immediate intervention. Given the state’s high suicide rate and the presence of multiple risk factors, Utah residents may be especially vulnerable.

For milder symptoms—especially when tied to a life-changing event—many people wonder how long to wait before seeking mental health services. As a rule of thumb, symptoms must be present throughout the day for at least two consecutive weeks to constitute clinical depression. But again, because the severity of symptoms can wax and wane, there is no set number of days to observe before getting help.

Note: Before considering whether symptoms are getting better or worse, many individuals will benefit from first learning more about the clinical symptoms of depression.


Taking Stock of Depression Symptoms in Treatment

Apart from knowing when to seek an intervention or professional assessment, many Utahans who struggle with depression want to know what they can expect from treatment. Outcomes vary considerably, and mental health professionals in Utah will often make personalized recommendations. Yet, there is often a time frame in which to revisit depression symptoms in light of specific treatment protocols:

  • Placebo Effects: Almost any depression treatment may start to show effect right away due to placebo effects. By taking the steps to get help, an individual expects to get better and often does as a result of this expectation. It’s not a trick of the mind, either, so much as using the brain’s innate capacities to generate improvement. The real trick is getting the improvement to stick: Placebo effects will often fade or vanish—though they may persist for long periods of time if the individual becomes conditioned to expect an improvement from a specific treatment.
  • Mood-Enhancement Vitamins and Supplements: How quickly dietary supplements can be expected to act outside of placebo effects really depends on how the supplements are absorbed by the body. Water-soluble supplements may start to work in a few days or a couple of weeks at most. Fat-soluble supplements may take several weeks to build up in the body. It’s also worth pointing out that the absorption and distribution mechanism may play a role in overall effectiveness. Because it’s further along the chemical chain toward serotonin, for example, 5-HTP more easily passes the blood-brain barrier than tryptophan.
  • Antidepressants: These prescription medications also take a couple weeks to work, but it’s nevertheless crucial to monitor any side effects from the beginning. These side effects may show up almost immediately and, in rare cases, can be life-threatening. Even less serious side effects should be carefully examined and coping strategies should be deployed when appropriate. At the same time, it’s important to recognize that these medications take time and not to become discouraged or discontinue use prematurely.
  • Psychotherapy: Arguably, this is the hardest one to pin down. Plenty of people report improvement after a single session. Other individuals find occasional psychotherapy to be beneficial even many years after an initial diagnosis. Moreover, evaluating how a client’s mood changes over time and responds to different treatment approaches is a big role of psychotherapy itself. Another common goal is to build on any early momentum or to sustain a positive outlook when first-line treatments show hardly any effect on depression symptoms.


Get Help with Depression

It’s important to evaluate the effects of individual therapies, but the best outcomes usually result when an individual marshals all the resources at his or her disposal. In any case, you’ll want a qualified Utah mental health professional to help examine depression symptoms and treatment effects.


Learn about the Three Major Types of Bipolar Depression

Bipolar depression is a mental disorder in which an individual bounces back and forth between depressive episodes and periods of elevated mood or mania. The individual course of the disorder can be quite varied and unpredictable. Episodes can last only a few days or persist for several months. The bipolar episodes can complete several cycles each year, or a single cycle can itself last several years.

But in parsing out the different types of bipolar depression, it’s often the severity of each mood that is the primary consideration:


  • Type-1 Bipolar (with hypermania): This type involves a more extreme version of mania, sometimes called hypermania, that generally lasts between one week and a few months. For these individuals, the mania is marked by high energy, racing thoughts and speech, an inflated sense of self, reduced need for sleep, and reckless behavior. These individuals may be drawn into goal-oriented activities, but they may also be easily distracted. Moreover, an elevated mood does not guarantee a personable attitude, as the person is also more likely to be irritable.
  • Type-2 Bipolar (with hypomania): This course of bipolar disorder is defined by hypomania. Hypomania has all the same general traits as hypermania, just not as severe. Typically, the severity is determined by looking at the occupational and social disruption that is caused, but there are other factors as well. If the inflated sense of self or other symptoms lead to delusions or other signs of psychosis, for example, it’s automatically considered full-blown mania. Moreover, hypomania may persist for as few as four days but may still last several months.
  • Cyclothymia: This type of bipolar depression is characterized by milder forms of both mania and depression—so mild, in fact, that they fail to meet the criteria for a manic or depressive episode. Yet, the swings between depressed and manic mood are frequent and persistent and cannot be explained by another condition or mental disorder. Individuals will go multiple years without experiencing a period of normal mood that lasts longer than two months.


Partial or Specified Diagnosis

Apart from these three major categories, there are many ways to describe bipolar symptoms that do not meet the full diagnostic criteria. This may be due to something as simple as an insufficient history: A clinician may be able to flag short-duration mood swings or a manic episode that has not yet been accompanied by a depressive episode. These partial diagnoses frequently meet the full criteria later on but are still crucial for early therapy interventions and better outcomes overall.

Even when a full range of symptoms are present, the diagnosis must first consider whether they’ve been induced by substance use, medications, or a general medical condition. The mental health professional must also evaluate whether a different disorder (depression, ADHD, borderline personality) is a better fit for the presentation of symptoms. For complicated cases, a “rule-out” diagnosis may be noted when it’s not yet possible to distinguish between different disorders.


Get Help with Bipolar Depression in Utah

No matter what type of bipolar depression you may have—or even if your symptoms are not indicative of this mental disorder—it’s critical that you seek help for any serious signs of mental illness. Rather than trying to find answers on your own, work with a qualified mental health professional. This is the only way to know precisely what you’re facing and what treatment plan, if any, is likely to provide mental health benefits.

Looking ahead, you can read more about what you need to know about living in Utah with bipolar disorder.

Understanding the Manic Depressive Cycle

For those with bipolar disorder, the manic depressive cycle describes the periods of and transitions between depressed and elevated moods. Rather than a smooth transition between two equidistant states, however, manic and depressive episodes often have sudden and unpredictable onsets with a range of severity ratings and transitional periods.

And yet, at the same time, each episode is sustained and distinct. This fact is a key difference between bipolar disorder and other types of mental disorders or syndromes (ADHD, depression, mood dysregulation, etc.) Moreover, an accurate and timely diagnosis is one of the biggest barriers to mental health access for many who suffer from this group of mental health issues.


Two-Way Suffering: Mania and Depression

To be clear, manic depressive is not a kind of depressed mood, but rather the pronounced split between these two poles of subjective mood. On the outside looking in, mania can seem like a pretty good time, but it’s rarely described that way by the individuals after the fact. This is especially true for those who feel completely out of control and/or who lose touch with reality—known as hypermania. In fact, a substantial number of individuals with bipolar disorder actually report their mania as the worse symptom to endure.

More than just what they consider worse, the reasons behind the choice are often revealing. A depressive episode is dominated by more negative feelings and overall mood, but manic episodes often carry the most serious and longest-lasting consequences. Many people also talk about having a bigger negative on the ones they love during times of mania. Nevertheless, severe depression is known as one of the worst subjective experiences an individual can go through. And a depressive episode within a bipolar disorder may be quite severe.

In theory, milder peaks can make the disorder easier to manage but also harder to identify and diagnose. This naturally leads to many individuals who are left unmonitored and untreated. And this is problematic because individuals with this milder form—known as cyclothymia—can eventually develop into full-blown bipolar disorder.


Transitions and Periods of Normal Mood

More than just the peaks, it’s also important to consider the in-between times. These periods, too, are quite variable and individualized. For some people, the transition is actually characterized by overlapping symptoms of mania and depression. Others may experience normal mood for many months or even years between episodes. Each manic depressive course is going to present different challenges. Individuals who recognize their mania is about to subside into depression may pose a serious risk of harming themselves out of desperation. Alternately, individuals who are in the midst of a protracted period of normal mood may become lax in the maintenance and monitoring of their mental health status.


Getting Help for Manic Depressive Disorder

Education is an important component of recognizing manic depressive symptoms, but it’s no substitute for a clinical assessment conducted by a qualified mental health professional. Moreover, even after the disorder is identified, individuals typically struggle or fail to manage the symptoms on their own. Depending on the individual’s current mental health status, an immediate intervention and inpatient psychiatric care may be necessary. From there, a combination treatment of prescription medication and psychotherapy are often effective in managing symptoms long-term. Don’t let any mental illness stigma or feelings of anxiety keep you from getting the help you need.

Suicide Prevention in Utah: Out of the Darkness and Walk 4 Hope

Suicide prevention and awareness never stops, but as a community, we’ve designated September as the month to organize events and make a special effort to come together for the cause. In Utah, there are several walks this month we want you to know about. If you’re so moved, please consider joining at us one of these Utah Events and/or sending a donation to the Utah Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition also provides support for these events.

Find more information about these events below as well as the broader organizational efforts to reduce the incidence of suicide. (Note: Provo and Utah County have their own organization and event: Walk 4 Hope run by Hope 4 Utah.)


When and Where are the Events in Utah?


Salt Lake City – Out of the Darkness Walk

Walk Date: 09/15/2018
Walk Location: Liberty Park – Salt Lake City, UT
Check-in/Registration Time: 9:00 am
Opening Ceremony: 11:00 am
Walk Begins: 11:30 am
Walk Ends: 1:00 pm

For more information, please contact:
Contact Name: Shari Elliott
Contact Phone: 801-949-6192
Contact Email: sharimarie74@yahoo.com


Vernal – Out of the Darkness Walk

Walk Date: 09/22/2018
Walk Location: Colton Pavilion – Vernal, UT
Check-in/Registration Time: 09/22/2018 at 9:00 am
Walk Begins: 10:00 am
Walk Ends: 1:00 pm

For more information, please contact:
Contact Name: Rick Robbins
Contact Phone: 434-828-4179
Contact Email: boss302rik@gmail.com


St. George – Out of the Darkness Walk

Walk Date: 09/29/2018
Walk Location: Highland Park – St. George, UT
Check-in/Registration Time: 09/29/2018 at 9:00 am
Walk Begins: 10:00 am
Walk Ends: 12:00 pm

For more information, please contact:
Contact Name: Theresa Bright
Contact Phone: 435-414-5957
Contact Email: lbush1942@gmail.com


General Information for Out of the Darkness Walks

Online registration closes at noon (local time) the Friday before the walk. However, anyone who would like to participate can register in person at the walk from the time check-in begins until the walk starts. Registration is free and open to the public. Walk donations are accepted until December 31st.


Hope 4 Utah – Walk 4 Hope

Walk Date: 09/29/2018
Walk Location: Timpanogos Elementary School – Provo, UT
Event Begins: 9:00 am

Find the latest information on their website and FB page.


What Do You Do at These Events?

The big thing is the walk, but it’s not the only thing going on at these events. There are plenty of booths and information. You can sample foodstuffs from local vendors. You can also pick out color beads to show your support for specific people and populations. This includes friends and family, servicemembers, and people who struggle with suicide ideation themselves. You can also check pick a color to support the cause in general.

Many of the people at these events come in groups, or teams, to remember someone in particular who has taken their life. Other people come only with their best friends or family to remember and be grateful that they escaped their own suicide attempt. You can find a quiet corner to contemplate your emotions, or you can find people—strangers or event staff—who are eager to talk to you…about almost anything.



What is the Walk and Fundraising Goal?

The walk is an easy 5k. In Salt Lake City, it’s two loops around Liberty Park. Nor is anybody going to judge you if you stop early. We had to do that one year, when we had to leave to go to work. Just remember to be careful where you step. Dogs are allowed on the walk, so you’re going to want to watch out for fresh piles of poo. We’ve learned this the hard way, too.

The Salt Lake City Out of the Darkness Walk is set to bring in nearly $250,000 for the cause. Adding the St. George and Vernal Walks, and the total is around $300,000. And this figure doesn’t count the resources marshalled at the Provo Walk 4 Hope event.

Individual fundraising can be set up as a standard pledge drive in which you ask friends, family, and coworkers to sponsor you, or people can make a flat donation to the organization. More than just raising money, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention develops strategies for deploying these resources with the larger goal of reducing the annual suicide rate 20% by 2025.

Behavioral Health: What Does it Mean for Utah Residents?

Behavioral health is a characterization of how well a person thinks, feels, and acts to their environment. Desirable behaviors demonstrate an adaptability that tends to lead to a greater sense of well-being and life satisfaction. In Utah, however, the term is most often used for the collection of care services offered by the state’s mental health industry.

It’s no wonder that the term is difficult to define. Aside from the nuance of the human condition itself, it’s hard to find a label that fits all the different talk therapy, prescription medications, residential programs, and psychiatric hospitalizations that may be administered to people with dozens of different mental health diagnoses—diagnoses which are themselves quite varied.


The Professional Version of Mental Health

Behavioral health has been slowly but consistently replacing “mental health” among professionals in the industry. The terms mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably, but many professionals don’t like “mental health” because of its association with going mental and with the idea that psychological problems are “just in your head.” On the other hand, the new term is not universally loved by any means, even by the professionals.

Still, this preference can be most readily seen in the naming and branding of practices and provider sites. In the starkest example, Valley Mental Health decided to rebrand itself Valley Behavioral Health as part of a larger organizational change. Because so many mental health providers depend on organizational contracts and referral sources, this branding is often aimed at other health providers as much as the client base itself.


Behavioral Health vs. Psychiatric Services

On a similar note, in most hospitals today, what used to be the psychiatric wing or ward is now called the behavioral health unit. This, too, was seemingly done in response to the mental health stigma attached with “psychiatric ward.” On the other hand, psychiatric care has, arguably, come a long way over the years, decades, and even centuries since the worst practices were first introduced. Moreover, the industry as a whole has become more aware of and more proactive about fighting back against the stigmatizing effect of mental illness.


What this Change means for Utah Health Consumers

Arguably, behavioral health is an empowering way to cast mental health services. For one thing, it’s often easier to believe that one can change their behavior, rather than the underling mental illness. It’s certainly less stigmatizing than a lot of other options, too. The one thing it may overlook is the environment in which an individual lives. A big part of what mental health professionals do is make recommendations for changes to the residence or other environmental factors. At the very least, you hopefully won’t feel tripped up by the name and description of health services you receive from therapists, social workers, psychologists, and/or psychiatrists. Whether you’re looking for outpatient counseling and therapy services or inpatient treatment services, don’t hesitate to get the help from a clinic that speaks to your individual needs and priorities.