Mayors of Utah Valley: Focused on mental health of Spanish Fork residents
Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo
Recently, I was sent an article, written by a politician, patting themselves on the back for the work they are doing in the mental health arena for their constituents. Weeks later, the politician was asked why the funding for the department that deals with mental health awareness was drastically cut over the last year. There wasn’t a good answer given as to why, because there is no good answer.
Last week in Spanish Fork, we held our sixth-annual “FitCity” Community Health Fair. This event highlights our year-round commitment to the physical and mental wellness of our residents and includes 30 vendor booths from all over Utah County that focus on promoting or assisting physical and mental health.
We don’t charge the vendors that come, or the individuals and families that attend. At the event, there are tons of great prizes, a plethora of kid’s activities and cool t-shirts for everyone who participates in the 2.5K family fun walk/run.
With such a successful event and a growing tradition, why aren’t the elected officials of the city racing each other to take individual credit? Because public health, both mental and physical, is more important than politics. Because it wasn’t us. The initial funding for this event came from Intermountain Healthcare through the Utah League of Cities and Towns and ongoing funding comes from a RAP tax that the residents of Spanish Fork voted for. Because volunteers, who have intimate and sometimes tragic experiences around mental health, care enough to step up and help others. Because dedicated professionals in our parks and recreation department and city management prioritize and do the real work behind the scenes.
I’m convinced that the solutions to overcoming the health problems that plague our communities are found in connecting the invested parties. We can make these connections by engaging public employee professionals and private companies which rely on a healthy workforce to create, innovate and produce a product.
Mental and physical wellness affects all of us, and we all need to be a part of the solution and as elected officials, we should be investing in the future of our communities rather than our own political futures.
Walter Payton said, “When you’re good at something you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.” Here’s to a healthy future of our city, county, and state and those great people who help make it so.