Mental Health Minnesota saw another significant increase in online mental health screenings in October. Nearly 3,200 people completed our screenings in October alone, which was an increase of more than 600% over March screening numbers.
“Use of our online screening tools has skyrocketed in recent months, mainly due to the extreme stress and anxiety so many people are feeling right now,” said Shannah Mulvihill, executive director. “Between August and October, we had more than 8,000 people complete online mental health screenings, which is more than during the entire year of 2019.”
In total, 1.5 million people across the nation took a Mental Health America’s screening during this time. More people are reporting frequent thoughts of suicide and self harm than has ever been recorded by Mental Health America since the launch of the screening program in 2014.
“This enormous increase in the number of screenings shows us that there are so many people who are struggling and seeking answers and help,” said Mulvihill. “Now it’s our job to be there for them when they need it.”
Online mental health screenings can be accessed anytime on our website.
The 2021 State of Mental Health in America report, released in October by our affiliate, Mental Health America, provides evidence of the worsening mental health of our nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
From January to September 2020, the number of people looking for help with depression and anxiety has skyrocketed. At Mental Health Minnesota, 7,000 people have used our mental health screening tools in the last three months, which is more than in all of 2019. The majority of the individuals are under the age of 24.
When people screen for mental health symptoms, they are also looking for services to help them cope and recover. Your support is needed now more than ever so we can continue to provide not only the screening tools, but our Warmline, our Mental Health Helpline, and our COVID Cares mental health support service (833-HERE4MN) to best help individuals in our community.
In total, 1.5 million people across the nation took a Mental Health America’s screening during this time, revealing these highlights:
8 in 10 people have consistently found they have symptoms of moderate to severe depression since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
More people are reporting frequent thoughts of suicide and self-harm than has ever been recorded by Mental Health America since the launch of the screening program in 2014.
Young people are struggling most with their mental health. Youth ages 11-17 accessed screening at a 9 percent higher rate than in 2019. In addition, rates of suicidal ideation are highest among youth, especially LGBTQ+ youth.
People screening at risk for mental health conditions are struggling most with loneliness or isolation.
Black or African American screeners have had the highest average percent change over time for anxiety and depression.
From October 4-10, 2020, we are joining our affiliate, Mental Health America, in sharing information about different mental health conditions and 7 ways to get involved with mental health awareness and advocacy:
Act on advocacy. Representatives Chu and Smith introduced the PEERS Act of 2020 on September 11, 2020, an important step towards better-integrating peer specialists as a key part of mental health care. Ask your Representative to co-sponsor this important bipartisan bill: Take action
Support others. Many people will go through a challenging time that affects their mental health. There are simple things that every person can say or do to help the people in their life who are struggling to get through the tough times. Here are 7 tips for supporting others: [https://mhanational.org/supporting-others].
Reset and engage in self-care. Finding ways to decompress and relax are critical to your mental health. Whether it’s a nap, reading, or calling a friend, take a break from the usual grind. Need help with figuring out what to do? Just do one of these 31 things to boost your mental health: [https://www.mhanational.org/31-tips-boost-your-mental-health].
Get screened. Screening for mental health conditions should be just as normal as screening for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or any other chronic health condition. Taking a mental health screening at [mentalhealthmn.org/work/screening/] is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition.
Give. Whether it’s monetary support, sending someone some love, or volunteering your time, give back to your community. Donate to support Mental Health Minnesota’s programs here: [mentalhealthmn.org/donate/].
During Mental Illness Awareness Week, we will focus on sharing information about 7 major mental health conditions:
Recovery Month, now in its 31st year, is a national effort by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Every September, SAMHSA sponsors Recovery Month to increase understanding of mental and substance use disorders, raise awareness about available resources and celebrate the gains made by people living in recovery. For more information about Recovery Month, visit www.recoverymonth.gov
Want to see what recovery looks like in action? Read and watch our inspiring stories of recovery shared by people who have experienced living with a mental illness. In a video series we completed earlier this year, 10 Minnesotans also shared how COVID-19 has affected their mental health and what they’re doing to cope during this difficult time.
In honor of September’s Suicide Prevention Month, #BeThe1To play a role in suicide prevention. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s 5 steps of #BeThe1To can help someone in crisis and save lives. Learn more about #BeThe1To by visiting bethe1to.com.
Ask the tough question.
When somebody you know is in emotional pain, ask that person directly: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”
If your friend is thinking about suicide, listen to their reasons for feeling hopeless and in pain. Listen with compassion and empathy and empathy and without dismissing or judging.
#BeThe1To Keep Them Safe
Is your friend thinking about suicide? Ask if they’ve thought about how they would do it and separate them from anything they could use to hurt themselves.
#BeThe1To Help Them Connect
Help your friend connect to a support system, whether its 800-273-TALK(8255), our free mental health support service 844-HERE4MN, family, friends, clergy, coaches, co-workers, or therapists, so they have a network to reach out to for help.
#BeThe1To Follow Up
Check-in with the person you care about on a regular basis. Making contact with a friend in the days and weeks after a crisis can make a difference in keeping them alive.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exact a huge toll on not just the physical health but the mental health of the nation. As we enter a new, very uncertain academic school year – it’s important for parents, caregivers, and school personnel to know the signs that a young person is struggling with his or her mental health.
Loneliness and isolation can negatively impact a child’s mental health
We know that stress and anxiety can be common during the school year for students, but with the pandemic upon us, it’s even more important to pay attention. For those who are physically going back to schools, the anxiety and fear are palpable – and simply navigating the uncertainly can feel overwhelming. And for those who are learning virtually, too much isolation can be harmful.
Research shows that chronic loneliness, which many of us are feeling these days with stay-at-home orders – can translate to poor sleep, high blood pressure, greater risk of suicidal ideation, and even alcohol and drug use. Depression and anxiety have also increased in the months since the pandemic began.
Half of all mental health disorders begin by the age of 14, and about 75 percent begin by the age of 24. But it’s also important to know that mental health issues are common and treatable – you don’t have to suffer in silence!
Take a mental health screening B4Stage4
Know the signs and symptoms of mental health issues so that you can seek help for you or someone you care about. Free, confidential, and anonymous screening tools are available at mentalhealthmn.org/work/screening/ to check in on symptoms and to find resources to help.
Just like physical health, taking care of mental health struggles early can help to prevent more serious problems from developing in the future. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be experiencing a mental health problem, it is important to act before Stage 4. Start the conversation. Seek help from a trusted adult. Remember there is nothing to be ashamed of and that there is help and hope available.
Mental health crisis services and other support resources are available
There are also serious signs that someone is in crisis and needs more immediate help. These include thoughts or plans of hurting oneself or another person. If you think a child or teen is in immediate danger of taking suicidal action, call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK. Their trained crisis counselors can help you find local resources or suggest next steps. You can also lookup information for your local mobile crisis response team.
We’re also providing free professional mental health support through our COVID Cares service by calling toll-free 833-HERE4MN. We are here to help anyone who is feeling elevated levels of stress, anxiety or depression during these unprecedented times.
In addition, to continually support people during the pandemic, we’ve temporarily extended our hours of our Warmline service from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday – Saturday. Our normal hours were 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Our Warmline is staffed by certified peer specialists who know what living with a mental health condition is like.
Mental Health Minnesota is excited to announce that there is now a toll-free phone number for people seeking support from COVID Cares, a free, anonymous, confidential phone line for anyone struggling with stress, anxiety and worry during this difficult time. It will now be easier than ever for people to get support by dialing toll-free at 833-HERE4MN.
“So many people are facing unprecedented stress and worry right now, whether you’re a healthcare worker or a hospital janitor, a teacher contemplating a return to the classroom or a parent struggling to balance work and children, a grocery store employee stocking shelves or a farmer struggling to make ends meet,” said Shannah Mulvihill, Mental Health Minnesota’s executive director.
COVID Cares is a service offered in collaboration by Mental Health Minnesota, the Minnesota Psychiatric Society, the Minnesota Psychological Association, and the Minnesota Association of Black Psychologists. The line is staffed by volunteer mental health professionals, and is open from 9AM to 9PM, seven days a week.
“We know that so many people are dealing with significant stress, but at the same time, we also know that many are not ready or willing to seek help or even talk to friends or family about it,” said Mulvihill. “This service provides an easy and anonymous way for people to reach out and talk about how they’re feeling in a safe, environment.”
To reach the service, call our toll-free number at 833-HERE4MN (833-437-3466).
We are honored to celebrate the first-ever BIPOC Mental Health Month in July! This month was previously known as Minority Mental Health Month. Why the change?
Our affiliate, Mental Health America (MHA), named July Minority Mental Health Month in posthumous honor of Bebe Moore Campbell, a best-selling author, journalist and mental health advocate in 2008. MHA honored Campbell each year following this date by creating a toolkit to address the mental health needs of underserved and underrepresented populations in an effort to elevate voices and improve understanding of the challenges these individuals face.
Yet in the weeks following George Floyd’s death, it’s evident that our country is still experiencing the longstanding effects of racism and bigotry, which often went unchecked and unmentioned in systems of care and other services. Systemic racism and bigotry inflict significant, long-term trauma on individuals, which can have terrible mental health consequences. Therefore, it was a time to re-examine the messaging of this Minority Mental Health month, ensuring it aligned with the experiences underrepresented communities are facing daily.
In the mental health field, we use “person-first” language to help individuals identify as human beings first, versus being identified for their mental health status. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) emerged as a person-first acronym that emphasizes the individual, versus “minority, which removes personhood by talking about quantity versus quality. The word “minority” also represents a difference in power between “majority” and “minority” groups, insinuating inferiority.
It became clear that the word “minority” no longer represented the message of the mental health community and instead perpetuated negative images and stereotypes. The term BIPOC, we feel, more fairly honors the unique experiences and existence of “BI” Black and Indigenous individuals and “POC” people of color. Thus, moving forwarding MHA and its affiliates will no longer use the word “minority” in our materials.
MHA developed information and resources specifically for Black, Indigenous People of Color BIPOC) and LGBTQ+ communities. We’ve included some of these resources as downloads on this page. They include handouts on racism and mental health and racial trauma; an infographic built from MHA screening data on BIPOC and LGBTQ+ mental health.
We also ask people to share how discrimination and/or racism have affected their mental health, using the hashtag #ImpactofTrauma.
“We wanted this to be a safe and anonymous way to approach mental health care for a first-time user.” Our executive director, Shannah Mulvihill, discusses with MinnPost how our COVID Cares phone line can be a source of support in times of stress for everyone during the pandemic. Read the article.
COVID Cares is a partnership between the Minnesota Psychiatric Society, the Minnesota Psychological Association, the Minnesota Association of Black Psychologists, and Mental Health Minnesota.
Minnesota educators, Gwen Ruoff, Dante Pirtle, and Danielle D. Smith participated in our Zoom panel discussion on children’s mental health on May 27, 2020.
Listen to the full discussion to discover their perspectives on teaching during COVID-19, how they stay mentally healthy, and how families can be supportive of each other, along with more strategies and tips: https://youtu.be/7p8lny85WTU.