Presentation Given to Raise Awareness about Mental Health Issues

Presentation Given to Raise Awareness about Mental Health Issues

Rock Springs Police Department Sgt. Clay Jarvie accepts the Mental Health Awareness Month proclamation document from Mayor Tim Kaumo. SweetwaterNOW photo by Stephanie Thompson

ROCK SPRINGS — May has been proclaimed as Mental Health Awareness Month in Rock Springs, and the Rock Springs City Council heard some startling statistics about the issue during its meeting this week.

Rock Springs Police Department Sgt. Clay Jarvie provided Council with information about a number of mental health issues facing Sweetwater County. Jarvie is in the process of obtaining his master’s degree in counseling and plans to pursue that career when he retires from the police department.

“I’ve been with the police department for about 16 years and unfortunately we deal with a lot of suicides around here. We also deal with a lot of people that just suffer from mental illness…” Jarvie said.

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Sweetwater County currently ranks in the top 10 percent nationally for completed suicides, Jarvie said. Centers for Disease Control statistics show Wyoming has led the country in suicide death rate per capita from 2018-2020.

“I always knew we were in the top 10, but to realize we’re No. 1 is pretty eye opening,” Jarvie said.

He added that the cause of mental health issues is not always clear. Schizophrenia won’t manifest itself for a long time and then all of a sudden it starts to develop in people and symptoms start to show. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can be caused by a singular event or multiple incidents. Sometimes traumatic incidents like car accidents can cause mental illness later, Jarvie said.

Unfortunately, Jarvie has seen firsthand what can happen to someone after a terrible accident .

“I had an aunt that got into a bad car wreck, had whiplash and injured her brain and she was never the same after that,” he said.

He said one way residents can prevent mental illness is by staying healthy. He encourages residents to go for a walk, read a book, listen to podcasts, and get enough sleep. He said adults should be getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

“Studies have shown if you’re getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night consistently, you can almost guarantee you’re going to get cancer and you can almost guarantee you’re going to get Alzheimers,” Jarvie said. “There’s a lot of stuff that come later on in life if you’re not taking care of your sleep right now.”

He said continuing to socialize also helps with mental health. He’s been reviewing research conducted by a phycologist who determined face-to-face contact, shaking hands or giving high fives can all decrease stress and improve mental health.

It’s pretty amazing what just a little social interaction can do for us and our mental health.

~ RSPD Sgt. Clay Jarvie

If you are struggling with mental health, reach out to a trusted friend or family member, Jarvie said. If that doesn’t seem to help, residents can go to counseling. He encouraged residents not to give up on counseling if one counselor just doesn’t “click.” He said sometimes a person needs to go to a few counselors to find a counselor that will work for them.

His last piece of advice was directed at parents. Jarvie said the best thing parents can do for their children is tell them how much they love them and give them hugs. Families who are more supportive of each other fair better than those without support systems.

Oftentimes a lot of residents just don’t know where to go for mental health resources so Jarvie made sure to provide a list of local resources residents can use if they need assistance.

After Jarvie finished with his brief presentation, Mayor Tim Kaumo proclaimed the month of May Mental Health Awareness month. He called upon residents, other government agencies, public and private institutions, businesses, and schools to recommit to increasing awareness and understanding of mental illness, and recognizing the need for appropriate and accessible services for all people with mental illnesses to promote recovery.

For the entire proclamation, click here.