Building a community that thrives, one resilient child at a time Natural community supports: helping our kids and community thrive

Every three years, United Way of Utah County and several of its community partners work together to conduct a comprehensive community assessment. This assessment is used to ensure that community members and organizations have the most accurate data available as they identify pressing local needs.

Reviewing the data from this year’s assessment, there are several areas of concern that can only be addressed through broad community support in the areas of education, income and health.

Current Utah County needs

Our community continues to experience large growth, much of which comes from growing families already living in the area. Utah County is a very young county—the youngest in the nation. While parents and individuals have a very high level of education, we continue to see a decrease in the number of students reading at grade level in third grade, a critical benchmark for students’ future learning. In education, we are working to bring together the voices necessary to change that trend.

From an income perspective, the poverty rate in Utah County has decreased, but we continue to experience a severe lack of affordable housing for Utah County families. Median home values are too high for the median income, and Utah County rental rates continue to rise. This is a problem that no one group or agency can solve on its own—only as a unified community can we address this issue.

Our recent research, however, indicates that our community health is where we presently need to focus the majority of our efforts, particularly when it comes to anxiety and depression in our youth.

Addressing mental health—a community effort

Many individuals claim that the solution to increases in youth anxiety and depression is to increase the number of psychologists in the area. These visits, however, are often out of reach for the individuals who need it most due to the difficulty to get an appointment at mental health facilities and the cost of treatment.

What United Way of Utah County promotes instead is the use of natural supports, the actions and initiatives of those who are already in our community, who are dedicated to the cause, and who are ready to help. These natural supports are our community’s parents and children’s trusted adults.

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, church leaders, teachers and neighbors all have a lot more influence than they know. These individuals are the ones who already recognize the increase in anxiety and depression, who are interacting with children and youth on a daily basis, and who are the ones who are looking for ways to help.

United Way’s EveryDay Strong initiative seeks to give parents and children’s trusted adults—the natural supports in a child’s life—the resources and tools they need to help children develop resilience to difficult emotions such as anxiety and depression. With these resources, such as the EveryDay Strong Resilience handbook, children’s need to feel emotionally safe, connected and confident will be met through purposeful activities and conversations about emotional wellness.

You are a child’s trusted adult and you can make a difference.

For more information on available support, tools and resources, please visit EveryDayStrong.org.

Child mental health is currently a major issue in Utah County, but by supporting children and ensuring that their needs for safety, connection and confidence are met, it is an issue that we can solve. When we strengthen the children in our local neighborhoods, families will be strengthened and our unified, emotionally resilient community will thrive.

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