Author Archives: Erin Erickson

Back to School 2021: Facing Fears and Supporting Students

Since we’ve been in the midst of a pandemic for a year and a half, it is difficult to remember how important feeling safe is to our mental health. But safety is vital, and if needs like safety aren’t met, a mental health condition may develop.

Back to School - Facing Fears and Supporting Students

A lot of kids and teens haven’t been able to feel that sense of safety for a long time. Not only are they dealing with fears that a family member (or they themselves) might be exposed to COVID-19 or the Delta Variant, but some have had to face an abusive home environment, a family financial hardship, or a family loss recently. We know from research that an estimated 1.5 million children worldwide lost a mother, father, or other caregiving relative in the first 14 months of the pandemic.

When a kid or teen experiences this kind of hardship, it can feel as if the world is crashing down on them. That’s why it’s crucial right now, as students return to school, for parents, teachers, and administrators to do everything they can to foster a safe and secure environment. School can be a refuge from some of these difficult situations at home, and a place that students feel out of harm’s way.

Still, even in the safest of environments, we are in a youth mental health crisis, and many students will exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety as they return to the classroom. It is important to let kids and teens know that support is available. Each school has different types of education and counseling services, so it is best to become familiar with the resources that your school provides.

To take an initial mental health screening, students can access www.MHAScreening.org for a free, confidential, and anonymous mental health test.

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.

At Mental Health Minnesota, we also have free mental health support resources available to help children, families and adults get support #B4stage4 or before a crisis:

  • Minnesota Warmline – Certified Peer Support Specialists offer free support to anyone struggling with mental health concerns
  • Mental Health Helpline – mental health resource, information and local provider referrals
  • 833-HERE4MN – licensed mental health providers offer free support to anyone struggling during the pandemic

Mental Health America‘s Back to School Fact Sheets

July is Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Month

We are proud to celebrate BIPOC Mental Health Month this July as we come together to highlight this year’s theme “Strength in Communities.” This month we explore alternative mental health supports created by BIPOC and queer and trans-BIPOC (QTBIPOC) communities of color.

These community-developed systems of support fill gaps within mainstream healthcare systems: community care, self-directed care, and culturally-based practices. We’ll explore why these types of care are valid and valuable choices people can make for their mental health.

We are all unique individuals and communities so it is important that we address our specific needs when it comes to mental health. There is no universal or one-size-fits-all practice.


Community care

Community care poster graphic with examples

Community care is an approach used by individuals to support one another and the broader community. For BIPOC and QTBIPOC communities, it can be hard to find mental health care that respects and caters to their needs. In an effort to help provide care for these individuals who may have not found mental health support, communities are creating spaces on their own. These spaces provide healing within communities that understand them better, and the well-being of the individual is intrinsically tied to the well-being of others, including the larger community. Community care focuses on the connections, intentional actions, and efforts to mobilize individuals to support one another.

As a result, community care responds to existing inequities and gaps in resources by creating new structures to bridge gaps and to increase access to meaningful resources through mutual support and aid provided by individuals and broader community-focused efforts.

Examples of community care include Peer Support, which refers to someone who shares the experience of living with a mental health condition or substance use disorder. The peer-to-peer approach is important to mental health recovery and wellness, and that’s why we have certified peer specialists who run our Minnesota Warmline.


Self-directed care

Self-directed care poster graphic with examples

Self-directed care (SDC) is an innovative practice that emphasizes that people with mental health and substance use conditions should have decision-making authority over the services they receive. Individuals are encouraged to take direct responsibility to manage their care, including determining their own needs, deciding how those needs are met, and continuously evaluating the services.

The way people talk about and experience mental health is uniquely shaped by their racial/ethnic backgrounds and cultural experiences. Because SDC gives the individual seeking services the power to decide what works best for them, it allows people from marginalized communities to determine their own priorities in recovery and move beyond traditional systems of care, which weren’t originally designed with them in mind.

Our Mental Health Helpline can be your first source of SDC. Reach out via our online chat or by phone to get connected to information about mental health programs and services that might help you or a loved one.


Culturally-based practices

Culturally based practices poster graphic with examples

Culturally-based practices are culturally-rooted customs, behaviors, values, and beliefs passed down through generations that function as “informal systems of support.” These culturally-based practices form part of a socially dynamic framework of assistance provided by and to individuals by their families, friends, and communities.

For generations, culturally-based practices have been erased, set aside, hidden away, or utilized in secret.

However, it is important to shed light on and engage in culturally-based practices in order to heal. By learning about and embracing culturally-based practices, individuals and communities can begin the process of understanding the impacts of historical trauma, reclaiming the honor and pride of their ancestors, their historical knowledge, and the power that exists in connecting with one’s community through shared values, beliefs, and customs.

Source: Mental Health America


BIPOC Resources

Provider directory for BIPOC

GENERAL MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES FOR BIPOC


BLACK AND AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITIES


LATINX/HISPANIC COMMUNITIES


ASIAN AMERICAN AND PACIFIC ISLANDER COMMUNITIES


NATIVE AND INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES

LGBTQ+ COMMUNITIES

May is Mental Health Month

A poster graphic for 2021 mental health month, with text, the 2021 Mental Health Month Toolkit is Here

This past year presented so many different challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency. The global pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined, and a lot of us struggled with our mental health as a result. The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of individuals and communities.

Now, more than ever, we need to combat the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. That’s why this Mental Health Month Mental Health Minnesota is highlighting #Tools2Thrive – what individuals can do throughout their daily lives to prioritize mental health, build resiliency, and continue to cope with the obstacles of COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. During the month of May, we are focusing on different topics that can help process the events of the past year and the feelings that surround them, while also building up skills and supports that extend beyond COVID-19.

We know that the past year forced many to accept tough situations that they had little to no control over. If you found that it impacted your mental health, you aren’t alone. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals that took the anxiety screening at Mental Health Minnesota’s online screening, 79% showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. However, there are practical tools that can help improve your mental health. We are focused on managing anger and frustration, recognizing when trauma may be affecting your mental health, challenging negative thinking patterns, and making
time to take care of yourself.

It’s important to remember that working on your mental health and finding tools that help you thrive takes time. Change won’t happen overnight. Instead, by focusing on small changes, you can move through the stressors of the past year and develop long-term strategies to support yourself on an ongoing basis.

A great starting point for anyone who is ready to start prioritizing their mental health is to take a mental health screening at our online screening site. It’s a quick, free, and confidential way for someone to assess their mental health and
begin finding hope and healing.

Ultimately, during this month of May, we want to remind everyone that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is possible. By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it is possible to find balance between life’s ups and downs and continue to cope with the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Free Support for Your Mental Health

  • Minnesota Warmline – Certified Peer Support Specialists offer free support to anyone struggling with mental health concerns
  • Mental Health Helpline – mental health resource, information and provider referrals
  • 833-HERE4MN – licensed mental health providers offer free support to anyone struggling during the pandemic

Mental Health Month #Tools2Thrive Resources


Happy New Year (and Thank You!) from Mental Health Minnesota

What a year 2020 has been…a year of extraordinary challenges and significant hardship and stress for so many due to the pandemic that has seemingly overtaken everything else in the world.

However, we have also seen more people talking about mental health than ever before, as we all see the impact that isolation, loneliness, stress, anxiety, and depression can have on our own lives, on our families, our employment, our overall health and wellness, and so much more.

At Mental Health Minnesota, that has led to a significant increase in our services. More than 20,000 people completed our online mental health screenings in 2020 (half of those were completed in the last three months). Use of our Mental Health Helpline, which provides information and referrals, has doubled since 2019. And people are calling our Minnesota Warmline for peer support in record numbers as well, with more than 13,000 calls and texts in 2020.

During this time of extraordinary challenges, we also saw an interest from those who want to help us move our mission forward. In 2020, we have a number of volunteers help make calls to connect with people who were socially isolated and struggling, and 100+ volunteer mental health professionals who have given their time to provide mental health support to health care workers, essential workers, teachers, parents, and others facing unprecedented stress.

In addition, we received increased or new grant support from Otto Bremer Trust, Blue Cross Blue Shield. ICare, FEMA/Minnesota Department of Human Services, Kohl’s Community Cares Program and both Dakota and Ramsey Counties. The financial support along with the generosity of donors, helped us ensure that we could meet the increased demand for our mental health services and supports in Minnesota.

As we close 2020, I want to thank everyone who has been a part of Mental Health Minnesota’s work this year. Whether you were a phone line volunteer or event attendee, whether you shared your story of recovery to help others, or connected someone in your life to our services, whether you held a Facebook fundraiser or made a donation to support our work – I thank you. I truly humbled by the generosity of our grant partners, collaborators, donors, and volunteers. I look forward to continuing our work together as we move into the next year. May we all look forward to brighter days ahead.

With gratitude,

Shannah Mulvihill, MA, CFRE

Executive Director, Mental Health Minnesota

New Law Creates 988 Hotline For Mental Health Emergencies

Even prior to the pandemic, America was experiencing rising rates of suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate has climbed nearly 30 percent since 1999. The rate has also increased in 49 out of 50 states over the last ten years.

People experiencing a mental health crisis who do not need an immediate trip to the hospital often find they can receive more targeted support through crisis hotlines than by dialing 9-1-1. Crisis hotlines, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, can connect a person to a trained counselor who can address their mental health needs and help connect them to ongoing care. However, when in immediate need of support, remembering the digits of a long 1-800 number isn’t easy nor is it as accessible, especially when every second counts.

That’s why we are excited to see the federal government pass a law this October to approve the Federal Communications Commission’s three-digit number – 988 – for a mental health crisis hotline. The aim is to have the number up and running by July 2022. 

With an easy to remember and dial number like 988, our nation can reach many more people in emotional crisis, helping meet the growing need for intervention at scale. Having an accessible number like 988 will also help in the fight to end stigma for those seeking mental healthcare.

Until the number is up and running, please continue to contact your county crisis team if you need help, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Supports Mental Health Minnesota’s Warmline

Mental Health Minnesota is pleased to announce that Blue Cross Blue Shield has increased its level of financial support for the organization in 2020, contributing more than $50,000 to support the Minnesota Warmline over the coming year.

“One in four of our callers to the Minnesota Warmline say that they would go to an emergency room or call 911/crisis services if they couldn’t reach us,” said Shannah Mulvihill, executive director. “We greatly appreciate the partnership we have formed with Blue Cross Blue Shield, as they support ensuring the availability of this service to their members to help them stay well.”

The Minnesota Warmline is currently open extended hours, from 12PM to 10PM, Monday through Saturday. For information on how to reach the Minnesota Warmline via phone or text, click here.

Mental Health Screenings Skyrocket

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.

2021 State of Mental Health in America

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.

Donate today to help us support the mental health of our community.

Read Mental Health America’s 2021 State of Mental Health in America report.

 

7 Actions To Take During Mental Illness Awareness Week

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:

  1. Challenge your beliefs. Rethink the way you understand mental health and mental illness and explore how “-isms” (such as racism, sexism, ageism, heterosexism, etc.) relate to mental health. Learn more about the intersections of these issues and their impact on mental health: [mentalhealthmn.org/news/july-is-bipoc-mental-health-month/mhanational.org/bipoc]
  2. 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
  3. 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].
  4. 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].
  5. 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.
  6. Get mental health into the debates. Tweet at the debate hosts and moderators to bring mental health to the national spotlight for the presidential and vice-presidential debates. Click here to send prepared tweets to the debate hosts and moderators now through October 22.
  7. 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:

Source: Mental Health America

National Recovery Month 2020

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.