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Millcreek Journal

Depression rates in Utah remain high

Jun 02, 2023 11:13AM ● By Peri Kinder

Depression affects millions of people worldwide, and Utah is no exception. The state has some of the highest rates of depression in the country, with thousands of people struggling with it each year. 

Utah is known for its focus on family, religion and community, so individuals in the state can often feel pressure to conform to social expectations. This can lead to feelings of isolation, especially for those who don’t fit the traditional mold. The state's conservative culture can also make it difficult to ask for help, as mental health is sometimes stigmatized.

“In Utah, there’s the aura of being a certain way, living to certain standards and an ongoing quest for perfection,” said Jason Corbridge, owner of NeuroHealth in South Jordan. “When you say you have an issue or you’re having a problem, that's almost taboo. No one wants to say they need help, or appear to be failing. Even when they’re not failing. Our suicide rate in Utah is one of the highest in the nation.”

To address the issue of depression and suicide, it is essential to raise awareness about the prevalence of mental health issues and reduce the stigma. This can be done through education and outreach programs and encouraging individuals to seek help. It is also important to provide access to mental health resources, counseling services and support groups, particularly in underserved communities.

Signs of depression include feeling little interest or pleasure in doing things, feeling hopeless or bad about yourself, feeling that you’re a failure or have let your family down or having thoughts of self-harm. 

“The first thing to do is to speak up and talk about it,” Corbridge said. “Get past the notion that you are the only one who feels that way, or that you shouldn't be discussing your feelings. If you’re not in the best mental position to make decisions on your own, all the more reason to reach out to friends or family, anyone in a position to think clearly and hear you out. Make others aware of your situation, and then look for professional help.”

In the February 2023 Kaiser Family Foundation analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey, 33% of adults in Utah reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder (with women showing higher rates than men), compared to 32.3% of adults in the U.S.

Often, people are struggling but feel they need to just push through it and not show weakness. But ignoring the situation doesn’t make it better. Many people deal with mental health challenges and there are lots of resources available to get help. If a loved one seems to be facing a mental health issue, initiate the conversation, even if it’s uncomfortable. 

“Whether it’s a mom, a spouse, a brother or a friend, it doesn't matter. Talk about your feelings, and don’t make it worse by shying away from what you think will be an awkward conversation,” Corbridge said. “You'll be surprised at how supportive those around you can be. Additionally, if you’re having suicidal thoughts, reach out to the national hotline at 988 immediately.”

By raising awareness, reducing stigma, and improving access to resources, individuals can address this issue and build a healthier and more supportive future. λ