Post Independent’s Longevity Project set to tackle mental health across age spectrum

Frank King

As part of its annual Longevity Project, the Post Independent is set to embark on an enterprise series and events, titled “Striking a Conversation: Mental Health for All Ages.”

Last year’s Longevity Project examined issues associated with the aging demographic in Garfield County, life expectancy rates and the active senior set here.

This year’s project will dive headfirst into the broader issue of mental health across the age spectrum as a cornerstone of living a long, productive life.

The series will kick off Aug. 14, examining youth mental health issues, and in subsequent weeks will focus on different age ranges — teen/young adult, middle age and senior living — and what’s being done in our area to address mental health across the age spectrum.

“Throughout conversations in the past year, mental health keeps coming up as an issue,” Post Independent Publisher Jerry Raehal said. “From rising suicide rates to homelessness, to how we treat each other at work and at home, mental health is a topic that is often overlooked as stigmatized.”

The goal of the series, Raehal said, is not to just look at problems, “but to look at solutions. From early age, good mental health is key.”

While the 2019 Longevity Project aims to shine a light on mental health and its byproducts, it also seeks to bring community members together to listen to one another and further the conversation surrounding these difficult topics.

In addition to stories, there will be micro-sessions also based on age-range topics. Topics for those sessions are in conjunction with the series and coordinated by Longevity’s presenting sponsors.

“The micro-sessions are a way for us to keep the conversation going beyond the stories,” Raehal said, noting that the Longevity event currently has two presenting sponsors — Renew and Connect For Health Colorado — and two more are being sought.

The event culminates on Sept. 17 with speaker and humorist Frank King, who also goes by the name, “the mental health comedian.”

King was a writer for the Tonight Show for 20-plus years and also performed corporate comedy, and though he was successful, he was also depressed and suicidal.

Frank’s current mission is to end the stigma surrounding mental health by sharing his insights with anyone and everyone who will listen in an effort to “start the conversation.”

“In watching highlights on his show, what struck me most was his approach to starting a conversation with each other but on a whole,” Raehal said. “We can do a lot of stories about mental health, but until we can learn to talk to each other about it, nothing will change.

“I think King’s message will be a great cap-off to what we hope is a great series.”

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