Utah Capitol to hold rally for mental illness and addiction recovery

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The ninth-annual 2017 “Rally for Recovery” will be held at the Utah State Capitol building on Thursday, Feb. 23. (Ari Davis)

Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness and National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah will host the ninth annual “Rally for Recovery” at the Utah State Capitol building on Thursday, Feb. 23.

The rally for mental illness and addiction recovery is held every year during the legislative session as an effort to communicate the positive effects of prevention, treatment and recovery support to Utah government leaders, in hopes that this will influence legislation.

Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness has listed four critical issues on its website that it will be focusing on in the 2017 “Rally for Recovery.”

  • Support Resolution C.R. 4 — Declaring Drug Overdose Deaths as a Public Health Emergency
  • Suicide Prevention and Intervention is critical to saving lives and families
  • Substance Use and Mental Health treatment and recovery support services are seriously underfunded: Long wait lists are barriers to getting help now!
  • Decriminalization of people who should be in treatment, not jail or prison.

The event also serves as a way to promote understanding of mental health and substance use disorders, while also celebrating those who recover, according to the Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness website.

Last year, current Miss Utah Lauren Wilson attended the rally. She said she was inspired by the people who had struggled with addiction in the past and were in recovery, as well as with those who had lost people to addiction and those who were there to support the cause.

“It was an incredible experience to see so many people gathered for the same cause,” Wilson said. “Hearing so many personal stories from those at the rally shows just how relevant discussion about addiction and recovery is in Utah.”

Utahans gather in the Capitol Rotunda to promote understanding of mental health and substance use disorders. (Lauren Kutschke)

Wilson’s personal platform as Miss Utah is suicide awareness and prevention. She felt attending the event provided an opportunity to support both suicide prevention and mental health and substance use disorder awareness.

“Many of those who die by suicide have either struggled with some form of addiction or are currently battling and addiction when the die,” Wilson said. “So, while this wasn’t my exact platform, it was a cause that works hand in hand with mine, and I was more than happy to support it.”

Those who wish to attend the rally can also participate in the “Walk to Remember.” The walk, which will begin at 4 p.m. MST outside the south side of the Utah State Capitol Building, will commemorate lives lost from addiction and mental illness.

The rally will begin shortly after at 4:45 pm MST in the Capitol Rotunda.

“Addiction can happen to anyone,” Wilson said. “It does not discriminate. Almost everyone has either had direct contact or knows of someone that has lived with some type of addiction. There is such a large sense of community here in Utah, and we should be supporting each other through everything, good and bad.”