Author Archives: Erin Erickson

May is Mental Health Month

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 mentalhealthmn.org/work/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 mentalhealthmn.org/work/screening/. 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

Tools2Thrive: FACT SHEET Accepting Reality (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: FACT SHEET Adapting After Trauma and Stress (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: FACT SHEET Dealing with Anger and Frustration (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: FACT SHEET Getting Out of Thinking Traps (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: FACT SHEET Processing Big Changes (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: FACT SHEET Taking Time for Yourself (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: WORKSHEET Dealing With Change (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: WORKSHEET Dealing with the Worst-Case Scenario (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: WORKSHEET Managing Frustration and Anger (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: WORKSHEET Practicing Radical Acceptance (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: WORKSHEET Prioritizing Self-Care (PDF)

Tools2Thrive: WORKSHEET Processing Trauma and Stress (PDF)


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.

September is Suicide Prevention Month

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.

#BeThe1To Ask
Ask the tough question.
When somebody you know is in emotional pain, ask that person directly: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?”

#BeThe1To BeThere
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.

Source: Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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