Dozens of Yavapai County residents participated in a Prescott Town Hall that centered on mental health, substance use and homelessness.
The half-day meeting was led by Tara Jackson, president of the statewide nonprofit organization Arizona Town Hall and by Pat Norris, retired judge and immediate past president of the Arizona Town Hall board of directors.
The group was hosted by EmbryRiddle Aeronautical University Chancellor Anette Karlsson, who emphasized the topics affected every aspect of communities across Arizona, saying no one was immune from the sometimes-tragic consequences of mental heal issues, substance use and homeless.
Representatives from a diverse spectrum of the greater community — legal, judicial, governmental, medical, educational, religious, financial and others — held small group discussions in which emphasis was not necessarily reaching agreement about every question but rather upon letting every individual express an opinion without fear of recrimination.
Key conclusions reached by the more than 40 participants included:
- The issues of mental health, substance use and homelessness are interrelated and integrated. They cannot be thought of in isolation.
- Society needs to better support people in need, not ignore them.
- Issues need to be addressed holistically, not insularly.
- Organizations and communities need to create as much as possible “one-stop shopping” for information, education, databases and resources.
- Communities need to encourage affordable housing, more public transportation, and flexible debt payment options to be shared with people with such needs. They cannot be ignored.
Jackson and Norris said collective comments would be taken to a larger upcoming statewide Arizona Town Hall and shared with participants from the entire state. Ultimately, results from meetings across the state, coupled to the statewide meeting, will be summarized and shared throughout Arizona with governmental, legislative, social and service agencies, educational institutions. “Anyone,” Norris said, “who wants a comprehensive view of how Arizona’s man-on-the-street population views these significant issues.”
More information about Arizona Town Hall is available at www.aztownhall.org or by calling 602.252.9600.