Author Archives: Shannah Mulvihill

833-HERE4MN Offers Free Mental Health Support

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).

Mental Health Minnesota Kicks Off Support Group for Certified Peer Specialists

 

Certified Peer Specialists play an incredibly important role in the mental health and recovery of people across Minnesota through their work at community mental health centers, Warmlines, ACT teams, and other mental health settings.

But serving as a Certified Peer Specialist isn’t easy. They are sharing their stories and experiences to help others in their recovery journey, and their roles are unique in mental health services.

Mental Health Minnesota believes in the value of peer services, and we know that it’s important for those providing peer services to have support. That’s why we’re offering an online support group for employed Certified Peer Specialists to share both the joys and the challenges of their work. The group is designed for and led by Certified Peer Specialists.

The “Peers Supporting Peers” online support group meetings will be held on Wednesdays at noon via Zoom. To register to attend group meetings, please click on our “Events” page to complete the online registration form.

COVID Cares Telephone Support Service Established for Minnesota Responders

The Minnesota Psychiatric Society (MPS), the Minnesota Psychological Association (MPA), the Minnesota Association of Black Psychologists, and Mental Health Minnesota (MHM) have teamed up to create a mental health support hotline to serve workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The support line went live on April 13, 2020, and volunteer licensed mental health personnel are now available from 9 AM to 9 PM, every day a week.

“I’m proud that Mental Health Minnesota has the opportunity to help serve those working hard in communities across our state to save lives,” said Shannah Mulvihill, Mental Health Minnesota’s executive director. “We all have a part to play in fighting COVID-19, and we hope that mental health support will help reduce the stress and anxiety felt by those on the front lines of the pandemic.”

“People working on the front lines of the pandemic are experiencing unparalleled levels of stress,” stated MPS President, Sheila Specker, M.D. “So it is heartening to see the immediate response from the mental health community in Minnesota, rising up and joining together to serve and support Minnesotans on the front lines of this pandemic – healthcare workers, first responders, and all essential personnel.”

Individuals who desire to use this free service and reach an on-call volunteer should click here or visit www.FastTrackerMN.org. This call support service is best suited for cell phone use for one-click connections.

“By being ready to listen, help, and inform, licensed mental health personnel will help give our heroes in this pandemic battle the tools they need to stay strong and be well,” added MPA President Willie Garrett, Ed.D., L.P.

May is Mental Health Month!

 

For the past 70 years, Mental Health America and its affiliates across the county have led observance of May is Mental Health Month.

As an affiliate of Mental Health America, Mental Health Minnesota is proud to participate in the national effort to promote positive mental health, as well as encourage a #B4Stage4 approach to mental health through early screening, early identification of symptoms, and early treatment to promote recovery.

A variety of resources and tools are available on the Mental Health America website, and can be found at www.mentalhealthamerica.net.

 

Mental Health Minnesota Awarded SAMHSA Capacity Building/Technical Assistance

Mental Health Minnesota is pleased to announce that the organization has been selected as a recipient of SAMHSA’s 2019 capacity building/technical assistance through the Bringing Recovery Supports to Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS TACS).

Mental Health Minnesota was chosen as one of just 25 recipients across the country. Approximately 160 organizations applied.

The focus of the technical assistance provided to Mental Health Minnesota will be to expand the organization’s work to engage the voice of lived mental health experience in public policy, as well as promote the use of peer-to-peer work in the provision of mental health services.

“We have worked hard to build our Mental Health Ambassador program, which provides opportunities for our communities to hear stories of mental health recovery and reduce stigma that continues to exist around mental health, and we now have 200+ ambassadors across the state. The next step is to expand opportunities for our ambassadors to engage with decision makers at every level to ensure that the voice of lived experience is heard related to funding and policy making,” said Shannah Mulvihill, Mental Health Minnesota’s executive director. “We are thrilled to be a BRSS TACS award recipient, and believe this technical assistance will help us continue to scale our work up and out, and increase our organizational capacity to ensure our success.”

Minnesota Warmline Takes Record Number of Calls in 2018

The Minnesota Warmline took nearly 10,800 calls and texts in 2018, more than double the number of calls in 2016, just two years before. The calls came from 73 counties across Minnesota.

“We are honored to be a trusted resource for help and support for so many people across Minnesota,” said Shannah Mulvihill, executive director. “Our Warmline staff is amazing and care so much about helping our callers, and the peer-to-peer approach used with this service is both unique and helpful to so many of our callers.”

The Minnesota Warmline provides people across Minnesota with an opportunity to connect with others, find support, reduce social isolation, and talk about their concerns in a peer-to-peer environment. For many people, the Warmline is an important tool that helps them before they reach a point of crisis and supports their mental health recovery.

Calls are answered by a team of professionally trained Certified Peer Specialists, who have first hand experience living with a mental health condition. If a caller is in need of more help, Warmline staff can directly connect him or her to the nearest county crisis line.

The Minnesota Warmline is open Monday through Saturday, 5 PM to 10 PM. For more information, click here.

Ask the Advocate: Where can I find information and resources specific to men’s mental health?

Meet Rick. He is a 49-year-old man living with depression. For years he has suffered in silence. He is not unlike many men who silently live with mental illness and do not reach out to ask for help. Recently, Rick reached out to Mental Health Minnesota. He wasn’t sure what he needed. He just needed the pain to stop. This simple but important step – reaching out – led Rick to the road to recovery and finally some relief.

I was able to direct Rick to the Face It Foundation located in the Twin Cities. This organization is dedicated to men’s mental health recovery. They offer support groups, one-on-one peer support, activities and an online chat. The foundation gives men the support they need to face depression and take control of their recovery. Rick called me back a few months later empowered by finally opening the door to treatment and support.

Which mental illnesses most commonly affect men?

Depression and anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses among adults in the U.S. Among men, depression is the most common mental illness – over 6 million men are affected by depression each year in the U.S.

More than four times as many men than women die by suicide in the U.S. Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death among men – over 35,000 men die by suicide in the U.S. each year. Risk factors can include social isolation, substance abuse, unemployment, trauma, and genetic predisposition. Research has also found that men are less likely than women to seek help for depression, substance abuse and stressful life events due to social norms, a reluctance to talk, and a tendency to downplay symptoms. (Source: Mental Health America)

While depression is the most common mental illness among men, it is important to remember that men can be affected by any mental health diagnosis. Over one million men in the U.S. are affected by bipolar disorder. Approximately one in five men develop alcohol dependency at some point in their lifetime.  You can read about the signs, symptoms, and prevalence of different mental health diagnoses here. If you are concerned about your mental health, taking an online screening is one of the first steps you can take to start getting help. Take our anonymous, online screening here.

Where can I find support if I’m struggling with my mental health, or if someone I love is struggling with their mental health?

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 and provides free and confidential support and crisis resources for people in distress. It can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255.

Additionally, every county in Minnesota has a 24/7 crisis phone line. You can find your county’s crisis phone line here. Anyone in Minnesota can reach the Crisis Text Line and text with a crisis counselor by texting “MN” to 741741.

I live in a rural area and am having trouble finding mental health support. What can I do?

Minnesota has a farm and rural helpline that is available to farmers and rural residents. The helpline is funded by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and is free, confidential, and open 24/7. Counselors who answer calls are specifically trained to provide support to address the unique stresses that farmers and rural communities face. The helpline can be reached toll free at 833-600-2670.

Are there resources specifically available for men?

The Face It Foundation, where Rick found support, connects men with other men who have experienced living with a mental illness. They offer support groups, group activities, and an online support network.

Psychology Today has a search engine where you can search for therapists, psychiatrists, and support groups. You can filter your search using wide variety of key words, including men’s health.

Are there resources available for men in the LGBTQ community?

The Minnesota LGBTQ Directory is a website where you can search for providers who currently serve LGBTQ people, have knowledge of LGBTQ health disparities, and provide competent care to LGBTQ people.

The Trans Lifeline is a hotline dedicated to the well-being of transgender people. The Trans Lifeline can be reached at 877-565-8860.

 

If you are having trouble getting connected with resources and services, please call Mental Health Minnesota and ask to speak with a Peer Advocate.

Peers in Action: Patrick Rhone

June is Men’s Mental Health Month. In the U.S., over 6 million adult men are experiencing depression in any given year. Depression and other mental illnesses are often treatable, yet men are less likely than women to seek treatment for depression, substance abuse, and stressful life events.

This month, we interviewed Patrick Rhone, Mental Health Minnesota board member, mental illness survivor, and mental health advocate.

 Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I’m a writer and technology consultant living in Saint Paul, MN with my wife, 10-year-old daughter, two dogs, and three cats. I’m also a mental illness (bipolar disorder) survivor of nearly 40 years.

In your experience, are there aspects of our culture that make it difficult for men who are struggling with their mental health to seek help? 

Yes. Many.

I don’t think it is any mystery that for most of the history of Western culture, the expectations that were placed upon men, especially by other men, were ones that were difficult to meet. We were expected to be brave, strong, not show fear, work hard, don’t complain, don’t ask for help, and especially don’t talk about your feelings. Also, especially, never admit a failing, feeling or fear.

While we have worked very hard in recent times to correct such thinking, I still think it is a lasting narrative that is as seductive as a reason as it is an excuse. Many mental illnesses, such as depression, thrive on good excuses for not wanting to get help.

I believe that because of these cultural and historical reasons, men are statistically far less likely to seek help. When they do, they are less likely to stick with it. On average, almost a hundred men a day die by suicide (around 35,000 a year). It’s a real problem.

Do you think peer-to-peer support – for example, men connecting with other men who have been in their shoes – could be an effective way to encourage men to reach out for help? 

Most definitely. And, I am aware such organizations exist and are doing great work. For instance, locally there is the Face It Foundation (https://www.faceitfoundation.org) who focus their support offerings specifically toward men. It started with a simple premise, just getting some guys together for breakfast to talk about this stuff. It’s a great approach because it’s not some formal support group. It’s some guys having pancakes at Perkins. It’s casual and men can let their guard down when they realize all the other guys around the table are facing this stuff too.

What are some things that everyone can do to work toward breaking the stigma that surrounds mental illness, and particularly the stigma that affects men who are experiencing mental illness? 

Well, I’m a writer. I believe that words mean things. Silly, I know. 🙂

But, seriously, we need to change the language we use surrounding this stuff. Most people don’t know that there used to be great fear and stigma around cancer. No one knew what caused it, it was spoken of in hushed tones, and people were expected to just stay home, waste away, and die. There was great shame if you got it.

Today, cancer is associated with words like bravery and courage. We fight cancer. We beat cancer. Those that do are cancer survivors. We fill the store shelves with pink stuff during awareness month and we celebrate those still among us. Such words change the way we perceive those who have cancer but also our funding and approach toward treatment and a cure. Not only that but the positive attitude has a direct, scientifically proven, effect on the chances of survival.

We need to do the same with mental illness. We need to stop speaking about mental illness sufferers and speak of mental illness survivors. Because mental illness can and does kill. Anyone who has a mental illness such as depression is fighting every day. Mental illness is something we can beat. Those who do are mental illness survivors.

If we can do this, if we can change the language and our cultural attitudes around this, it will help — men especially. It would turn something many view as shameful into a courageous battle. Maybe during mental health awareness month, we can fill the store shelves with green stuff and celebrate our survivors. This would change the funding and awareness. I can’t help but believe such a change in language and attitude would have an equally positive impact on the chances of survival too.

By: Patrick Rhone

Mental Health Minnesota Participates in National 5K Series

Mental Health Minnesota had the opportunity in May to participate in a national 5K series to increase awareness of mental health concerns around the country.

The event was part of a national effort to raise awareness and funds to support mental health programs, where local participants joined Dr. Adel Korkor as he ran a 5K in every state over 50 days.

“We were honored to be a part of Dr. Korkor’s work to raise awareness about mental health,” said Shannah Mulvihill, Mental Health Minnesota’s executive director.

Nearly 80 people participated in the first-time event, which was held at Lake Rebecca Park Reserve in the Delano area.

“So many people who attended the event brought their own story. For some it was about their own recovery, for some it was about struggling to find help for someone they loved,” said Mulvihill. “It’s our hope that events like this can encourage people to talk more about mental health and reach out for help when they need it.”

Learn more about the 5K series and Dr. Adel Korkor here.

Mental Health Minnesota receives grant for ‘Steps to Employment’ program

Mental Health Minnesota has received an $80,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services to support peer-to-peer groups for people living with a serious mental illness who are interested in seeking employment. The grant is part of nearly $950,000 recently awarded as a part of a new disability services innovations grants program to support people with disabilities in the community.

Approximately one in 17 people live with a serious mental illness, and for many, symptoms of their illness have made employment difficult or nearly impossible. In fact, the unemployment rate for people living with serious mental illness (SMI) is more than 80%. Many have goals related to employment, but barriers remain to securing and maintaining employment, as well as being successful in their employment goals in both the short and long term.

“We know that meaningful employment can play an incredibly important role in mental health recovery,” said Shannah Mulvihill, executive director. “We believe that additional assistance and resources as people living with serious mental illness enter the workforce could be instrumental in their success and ensure that they truly have an equal opportunity in employment.”

The “Steps to Employment” groups will provide a unique peer-to-peer approach to employment readiness, addressing topics such as establishing realistic goals, addressing barriers, stress management, self-care, working as part of a team, handling conflict, and more. The groups will be facilitated by Certified Peer Support Specialists, will be time-limited (eight hours total), and are intended to serve as a complement to other employment programs and services offered across the state. The program’s peer-to-peer approach will help ensure that a comfortable, safe environment exists for people seeking support from others, as well as some of the “soft skills” needed to ensure that they are truly successful in their work.

“We are lucky to have many employment programs across Minnesota for people living with disabilities, but there are very few opportunities for a peer-to-peer approach used in employment, especially related to mental health,” said Mulvihill. “Living with a serious mental illness creates unique challenges to successful employment, and who knows that better than those who have found a way to conquer those obstacles?”

Mental Health Minnesota will be seeking partnering organizations that serve clients who could benefit from this program. The groups will be offered at no-cost, given the grant support received. Please contact Kim Lutes, Mental Health Minnesota’s program manager, at kiml@mentalhealthmn.org for more information.