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Summit County

Mental health and COVID remain focus for Summit County Health Department

Summit County Health Department.png
Summit County Health Department
The Summit County Health Department headquarters near Quinn's Junction.

Summit County’s Health Department Director Phil Bondurant has an update on mental health services and the lingering long COVID symptoms some people are struggling with.

May is Mental Health awareness month and after two years of a COVID pandemic Phil Bondurant says there’s never been a bigger need for mental health support services

In Summit County there are several non-profit organizations that offer places people can turn to for help. Connect Summit County, Peace House, People’s Health Clinic, and the Park City Hospital all have mental health services available to the community. Bondurant says that the health department, is also a good resource, “You know, you can call the main health department hotline, you can call a nonprofit that you feel comfortable talking to, they have access, there's online resources on our website, there's a safe UT app; we've done a good job as a community trying to provide every mechanism of media for somebody to reach out to it at a time of crisis. And if it's really a dire situation, you can always call 911 and our law enforcement here in Summit County have been trained to handle those types of situations to ensure that somebody receives the resources they need immediately, so that we don't have some type of tragedy happen.”

The health department’s focus for the last two years has been on pandemic response and how to keep the community safe during unprecedented times. According to Bondurant, some things worked while others didn’t, and the department is meeting in June to assess them.

He says while the region is on the backside of the pandemic, there are people who continue to suffer with long COVID, and there’s a push within the medical community to understand what it is and why it happens. Currently, there aren’t many answers, “When you talk about long COVID, and people that are dealing with that struggle, we hear of things from mental clarity to autoimmune diseases popping up or, or symptoms that mimic autoimmune diseases, we hear about the fatigue, you know, respiratory issues. I know that the people that are dealing with it, it's no fun, and it's an ongoing thing. And they're going to be the key to helping us understand why it acts this way, and how come it stays in the body and has such a negative impact for such a long time.”

Bondurant says this is science in action and society will continue to learn from the pandemic for the next 25 years.

Moving forward he says the health department is monitoring COVID numbers, but the focus has shifted, “We want to not necessarily look at the presence of the disease, but the severity of it, and is it resulting in hospitalizations and, unfortunately, deaths. And right now we're not seeing that. The hospital system is still capable of managing the demand around COVID. And even individuals that are getting sick are reporting very mild symptoms. Most of them don't even know that they were sick unless they were tested for a job or for travel outside of the country. So really, it's a good spot to be in. We'll keep our fingers crossed. And as we see what's happening on the East Coast, we'll begin to forecast to project what might be coming our way in the fall.”

For more information on mental health awareness month and all things COVID, visit summitcountyhealth.org