TORRINGTON – The Torrington City Council voted unanimously to proclaim September as National Recovery Month for substance abuse and mental health in Torrington, joining a nationwide movement in recognizing the importance mental health.
Peak Wellness will lead the local effort in recognizing National Recovery Month, and has a month of activities planned to raise awareness for the cause. The first event will be the Second Annual Recover Run/Walk and Barbecue, which will be on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The walk will start at Java Jar at 10 a.m., and the barbecue will start at Peak Wellness Center at 11:30 p.m,” Amy Salway, a Peak representative, told the council. “Everyone is welcome, families, everybody in the community. We would like to do this every year to celebrate everybody’s recovery.”
For Salway, the month holds special meaning, and she said she believes it’s important to salute those who have take steps to improve their own mental health.
“For me, recovery is very important in any shape and form - promoting healthy living and healthy lifestyles and families,’ she said. “I come from a family of alcoholism and mental health disorders, so for me it really is personal. It is important to celebrate people who have worked for their own personal growth, for their sobriety, for their mental health.
“Prevention works. Treatment is effective. That is the big takeaway message.”
According to the Wyoming Department of Health, someone takes their own life every 13 minutes in the United States. In Wyoming, a person dies by suicide every two days. It’s the sixth-leading cause of death in the state, and the second-leading cause for people ages 15 to 44.
According to the statistics presented by the WDH, suicide is a more serious problem in Wyoming than in the rest of the country. In 2016, there were 142 suicides in the state. That’s 142 suicides for every 100,000 people and significantly higher than the national rate of 14 suicides per 100,000 people.
Salway told the assembly there’s a stigma surrounding mental health – but Peak is working to combat that stigma.
“We really do appreciate the effort and energy it takes people to walk through our doors,” she said. “There is a stigma that surrounds mental health and substance abuse challenges. Sometimes that really prevents people from reaching out and asking for help. We want people to know that we open our doors and we encourage people to walk through. Everybody is welcome there. We don’t judge and we always want to install hope, and when people have those success and they graduate from our programs, we always like to celebrate that.”
Peak Wellness is also planning events from 5 to 7 p.m. every Monday throughout September. On Sept. 9, Peak will seek to raise awareness for substance abuse. On Sept. 16, the focus will be on mental health, and on Sept. 23 the focus will shift to overall health.
The city’s proclamation, penned by Mayor Randy Adams, recognizes that ending the stigma surrounding mental illness will be a community effort.
“Every citizen and community can make a difference in helping end the silence and stigma that for too long has surrounded mental illness and discouraged people from getting help,” the proclamation said.