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The City Journals

Riverton spotlights anxiety with Live in Real Life Part 2

Feb 20, 2019 10:56AM ● By Mariden Williams

It was a full house at the first Live in Real Life conference. (Mariden Williams/City Journals)

By Mariden Williams | [email protected] 

The second installment of a popular mental health conference will be the highlighted event of Riverton High School’s 2019 Hope Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness of teen suicide and depression.

“Last year, we were able to convene with a panel of teachers and administrators and parents that talked about some of the top issues that they see at school,” said Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs. “Really it all related to anxiety, to depression, and oftentimes leading to self-harm and even suicide. And we were asked, ‘Will the city please do something—help sponsor events that help draw and raise some awareness for this?’”

And thus, Live in Real Life was born. 

The first Live in Real Life conference, held Sept. 17, 2018, was well attended, with some 1,500 parents crammed into the Riverton High School auditorium to hear from keynote speakers, doctors and emergency personnel about the effects of excessive screen time on teens. Every chair was filled, and the walkways were clogged with standing spectators. 

City officials hope Live in Real Life Part 2, which is focused on anxiety awareness, will be equally popular. It’s scheduled for 6 p.m. at Riverton High School on Jan. 28. Doors open at 5:30, and educational booths will be available after the event for attendees to see what resources are available for things such as counseling, health insurance and mental health. Attending the event is free of charge, and it’s open to everyone age 10 and up.

“This event is important for our community as we seek to address the struggles with mental health and anxiety that many people face, including our youth,” said Staggs. “In my several meetings with school administrators, teachers and parents, these issues are constantly raised. And it is our hope that these city-sponsored events will help raise awareness and understanding of these issues.”

Dr. Matt Swenson, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, is the event’s featured speaker. Swenson is a physician with Intermountain Medical Group and medical director at Utah Valley Hospital’s outpatient psychiatry and counseling clinic. He was recently featured as a keynote speaker at the Rocky Mountain Suicide Prevention Conference.

In addition to keynote speakers, the event will feature a showing of “Angst,” an IndieFlix original documentary. The film includes interviews with children, teens, educators, experts, parents and a special interview with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. 

“Our community has a lot of room for growth as we seek to understand anxiety and other mental health issues and their impact on people’s lives,” said Councilwoman Tricia Tingey. “We’d like to encourage everyone who has seen or been impacted by these issues to attend this special event.”

The city council, according to Staggs, is supportive of doing two or more Live in Real Life events a year from now on, with one at the beginning of each school year and at least one more toward the middle of the year.

“Since we’ve been doing and sponsoring Hope Week every January for the past several years, we felt it appropriate to do the second event in January,” said Staggs.

The other main event in Riverton High School’s Hope Week is the annual Hope Walk for suicide awareness, which this year took place Feb. 2. Participants walk from Riverton High School to the Riverton Spirit corner, at the intersection of 12600 South and Redwood Road, where they were greeted with doughnuts and hot cocoa, provided by city officials.