Author Archives: Erin Erickson

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: []
  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: [].
  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: [].
  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 [] 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: [].

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  

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 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 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



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:

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.