Coalition publishes document detailing needs, barriers in Utah behavioral health

Jan 12, 2024, 6:00 AM

Client Cassie Wilkin, left, participates in individual therapy with Kelly Birch at CORE for Women, ...

FILE: Client Cassie Wilkin, left, participates in individual therapy with Kelly Birch at CORE for Women, a residential treatment facility of Valley Behavioral Health, in Salt Lake City. The Utah Behavioral Health Coalition revealed its master plan on Thursday, which provides an overview of behavioral health in Utah. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

(Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — In Utah and across the country on Thursday, mental and behavioral health needs were front and center. Nationally, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris announced nearly $300 million that will help fund mental health resources in America’s schools.

The money is part of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act which, according to the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education 

Also on Thursday, the Utah Behavioral Health Assessment and Master Plan was made public.  Created by the Utah Behavioral Health Coalition, the master plan provides an overview of where Utah ranks on certain mental health indicators and issues that the Coalition sees as impediments to the industry.

Related: Latino Behavioral Health Services

The plan was made public at a roundtable discussion at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. 

In behavioral health early intervention is key, but Utah group says there are barriers

Huntsman Mental Health Institute Executive Director Ross von Vranken said that early intervention, as is the case in other parts of medicine, is key to successful mental health treatment.

“It’s no different than any other part of medicine,” he told KSL NewsRadio. “The earlier the intervention, the better the outcomes, and the less likely somebody is to have kind of debilitating, lifelong chronic conditions as a result of their illness.”

Standing in the way of early intervention, von Vranken said, is a workforce shortage.

“We don’t have enough providers in Utah to really take care of everybody,” von Vranken said. “Some people wait for months to get in for treatment or don’t get in treatment at all.” He says though it’s getting better, some people don’t seek help because of the stigma of having a behavioral health issue.

Another barrier to early intervention is cost.

“You’ve got a lot of high deductible insurance products now. If you’re paying out of pocket and you’re a little stretched for resources or dollars, you’re not going to go get help.”

Finally, von Vranken said that housing is a major barrier to getting and staying healthy.

“Particularly for the chronically and severely mentally ill. We just don’t have programs that sustain them while they’re recovering,” he said. “We need to keep focused on housing, both intermediate and permanent supported housing, that’s a critical piece of all this.”

What to do if you are in crisis

If you are in crisis please call 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Crisis hotlines

Huntsman Mental Health Institute Crisis Line: 801-587-3000
SafeUT Crisis Line: 833-372-3388
Trevor Project Hotline for LGBTQ teens: 1-866-488-7386

Online resources

NAMI Utah:


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Mental Health

Rep. Tyler Clancy, R-Provo, speaks about HB261 at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan. 19,...

Aimee Cobabe

Lawmaker wants to increase maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments

Utah lawmakers are supporting a bill to increase the maximum amount of time for involuntary civil commitments.

6 days ago

woman with a therapeutic device on her head to treat depression...


A brain pacemaker helped a woman with crippling depression. It may soon be available to more people

Researchers say deep brain stimulation, or DBS — could eventually help many of the nearly 3 million Americans with treatment-resistance depression.

6 days ago

Mothers and mental health...

Mira Cheng, CNN

Maternal mental health conditions drive climbing death rate in US, research says

The maternal mortality rate in the US is two- to threefold greater than in other high-income countries and increasing.

7 days ago

students walk to a bus, kindness ewalls coming to utah's k-12 schools...

Britt Johnson

Schools in Utah to get Kindness eWalls

Kindness eWalls display positive messages submitted by a school's students, teachers and parents.

8 days ago

Sour gummy worms colored in red, green, yellow, and blue...

Mariah Maynes

Can sour candy ease anxiety and panic attacks?

Experts say a TikTok trend where people suck on sour candy to ease anxiety or panic attacks, can work.  

9 days ago

Neuro-inclusive housing...

Devin Oldroyd

Neuro-inclusive housing: helping autistic adults find their independence

Over 50,000 people with autism enter adulthood every year. What resources when it comes to neuro-inclusive housing, does Utah offer to them?

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Coalition publishes document detailing needs, barriers in Utah behavioral health