Author Archives: Erin Erickson

Back to School 2020: Coping During COVID

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.

 

 

Back to School 2020 Toolkit

Parents, students, and families

Teachers

Everyone

July is BIPOC Mental Health Month

 

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.

BIPOC Resources

With COVID Cares Phone Line, Minnesota Mental Health Professionals Offer Support in Time of Crisis

“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’ Panel on Children’s Mental Health

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.

May is Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month, and it has never been more important than this year. While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health. health. Just weeks ago, we had no idea that all our worlds were going to be turned upside down by the coronavirus (COVID-19) or that the associated worry, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety would be something that literally everyone – all five in five – would experience.

Mental Health America’s Mental Health Month toolkit this year focuses on resiliency, offering tools to help. These tools will be more useful than ever during COVID-19’s social distancing measures. There is bonus material in the toolkit specifically focused on the coronavirus, and how we can all work together to support our mental health in the face of uncertainty.

Mental Health Month 2020 Toolkit

Nurse Panel Discussion on COVID-19

Minnesota nurses, Megan, Alethea, and Sari, participated in our nurse panel discussion on COVID-19 on Monday, April 27, 2020. Our outreach coordinator, Samantha Hedden, facilitated the conversation. The nurses discussed their mental health, how the pandemic has affected their jobs and lives, and how the community can best help during this time.

Watch the presentation.

Are you a worker on the front lines of the pandemic like Megan, Alethea, or Sari? Free mental health phone support is available through our partnership with the Minnesota Psychiatric Society, Minnesota Psychological Association, and the Minnesota Association of Black Psychologists. Learn more.

MMC Web Workshop: Wellness for Creatives

Samantha Hedden, our Outreach Coordinator, participated in a web workshop on wellness, hosted by the Minnesota Music Coalition on April 10, 2020. She discussed Mental Health Minnesota tools and resources, including our Warmline, Helpline, CONNECT initiative, and mental health screenings to help artists and all Minnesotans find healthy ways to stay well, cope, and remain positive and motivated during this unprecedented and challenging time.

She also commented on how telemedicine amid COVID-19 is increasing access to care.

“Telemedicine is a good transition to helping people that just can’t make it to an in-person meeting because of various reasons, whether it being their mental health is poor, they have small kids, or they have a physical disability where they are not able to get there. Telemedicine is the next step to being able to offer mental health services to everybody.”

Watch the full webinar.

Mental Health Minnesota Announces “CONNECT” Initiative to Fight Social Isolation

Mental Health Minnesota is pleased to announce the kick-off of CONNECT, an initiative aimed at fighting the social isolation many people in Minnesota are feeling as a result of social distancing/COVID-19.

The CONNECT initiative provides social connections by phone between volunteers and people who may be struggling with social isolation, loneliness, stress, anxiety or worry during the social distancing related to COVID-19. In addition to connecting, volunteers will also be able to provide people with information and resources to help address any mental health concerns if needed.

Long-term social isolation and/or loneliness can be detrimental to both mental health and physical health, according to a number of studies, one of which noted that the impact of long-term loneliness on physical health was equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

“For many people across Minnesota, social distancing and “staying at home” is increasing levels of anxiety, stress, and worry. It’s our hope that our organization and volunteers can help address that,” said Shannah Mulvihill, Mental Health Minnesota’s executive director. “We’re all making big adjustments in our lives, and it’s really difficult. But social distancing does not have to mean social isolation and loneliness.”

Anyone in Minnesota can sign up to receive phone calls from Mental Health Minnesota volunteers at www.mentalhealthmn.org. Those interested in serving as volunteers can also sign up our website.

Discover more mental health and COVID-19/social distancing resources. 

Minnesotans Encouraged to Take Care of Mental Health During Social Distancing

As the number of COVID-19 cases increases daily in Minnesota, across the United States and around the world, so do levels of anxiety, stress, and worry. For many, these feelings are compounded by social distancing.

It’s important to protect the health and safety of everyone, and the only way to do that is to prevent and slow the spread of the disease through social distancing and other quarantine measures. Yet while we protect our physical health during this pandemic, we can’t forget to address our mental health.

“Nationally, online screenings for anxiety have increased by nearly 20% over the last few weeks, and for many, social distancing inevitably means isolation and loneliness,” said Shannah Mulvihill, Mental Health Minnesota’s executive director. “It’s essential that people take care of their mental health as well as their physical health at this time, and we are working to share information, resources and suggestions that can help with that.”

Suggestions for managing mental health concerns during COVID-19/social distancing:

  1. Check-in with others and connect through more than just email, text, and social media. Call or video chat with your friends and family to make sure they are okay and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  2. Identify things you can do to reduce stress and anxiety. Consider what has helped you handle stress in the past, and make adjustments as needed to do those things (i.e. connecting with friends via Facetime instead of over coffee, exercise/yoga videos online instead of a group class, etc.)
  3. Maintain structure in your day. Many people are now working remotely and/or are at home with their children. Creating structure/schedule in your day can help daily life to feel more “normal.”
  4. Get outside if you can, even if it’s just in your yard, on a balcony, or just opening a window. Fresh air and sunshine can be very helpful in improving overall mood and decreasing feelings of depression and anxiety.
  5. Take breaks from social media and news articles that are focused on COVID-19. While it’s important to stay informed, too much information can be overwhelming.
  6. If you’re concerned about your mental health, take a free, anonymous mental health screening at mentalhealthmn.org. If you screen positive for a mental health condition, you’ll receive resources and information about next steps.
  7.  Know the resources that can help you, including the following:

For more resources related to mental health and COVID-19/social distancing, visit mentalhealthmn.org.

COVID-19: Make Mental Health a Priority Too

“40 percent of American adults say they are socially isolated.” Our Executive Director, Shannah Mulvihill, discussed with Fox 9 Buzz on March 17, 2020, the need to make mental health not just physical health, a priority during this COVID-19 emergency period. With our country on lockdown and social distancing measures in effect, those who already feel isolated are struggling. In fact, we’ve seen a 20 percent increase in anxiety screenings across the country over the last few weeks.

Shannah recommends checking in with others through not just text or email, but through phone calls and video chats. Practicing self-care to reduce stress, worry and anxiety on a regular basis is important too, as is adding structure to your day. And getting outside, even in our backyards or balconies (or just opening a window!) to get some fresh air and sunshine can also help!

Connecting with our Minnesota Warmline can also benefit those experiencing increased feelings of isolation.