Tag Archives: Mental Health

Connecting With Your Peers

Recovery is a journey and often involves several components. One essential component is support from others. Support from family and friends and can play an integral role. Connecting with others that are experiencing a similar health condition can be important too. Support groups can provide a positive environment to share these experiences. Support groups are not group therapy or a substitute for medical treatment, but a place where people can connect with others and to find mutual support.

The Minnesota Chapter of the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) – a program of MHAM since 2004 – has provided a platform for people to share experiences, personal feelings, information, and strategies for living successfully with mood disorders. DBSA support groups can:

> give you the opportunity to reach out to others and benefit from the experience of those who have been there.
> motivate you to follow your treatment plan.
> help you understand that a mood disorder does not define who you are.
> help you rediscover strengths and humor you may have thought you had lost.
> provide a forum for mutual acceptance, understanding, and self-discovery.

DBSA support groups are free and open to individuals who have depression or bipolar disorder, or for their loved ones. Meetings are facilitated by trained volunteers and meet at several locations within the Twin Cities area and parts of Greater Minnesota.

Check the current listing of DBSA meeting locations and times on the MHAM website. At some meetings, there are specific support groups for depression, bipolar disorder, and family issues. Please contact the facilitator directly for more information. If there is not a meeting location in your area or you are looking to attend a different type of support group, please check our listing of other sponsored support groups on our website. If you are interested in starting and facilitating a DBSA group in your area, please contact Tom Johnson at tomj@mentalhealthmn.org or 651-493-6634 / 800-862-1799.

For general information about DBSA support groups, please visit the DBSA website. Also, check out DBSA on the Not Alone radio program, airing on KKMS-AM (990), August 4 at 1pm and August 5 at 11:30 am. DBSA leadership will be talking about peer support through DBSA.

Prevent Heat Related Stress

From the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Excessive Heat Exposure Can Pose Higher Risks for Those on Psychotropic Medication or Other Substances

During this period when parts of the Nation are experiencing record high temperatures, SAMHSA is reminding everyone that these conditions can pose certain health risks to everyone—including people with mental and substance use disorders.

Exposure to excessive heat is dangerous and can lead to heatstroke, which is considered a medical emergency. Heatstroke occurs when an abnormally elevated body temperature is unable to cool itself. Internal body temperatures can rise to levels that may cause irreversible brain damage and death.

Individuals with behavioral health conditions who are taking psychotropic medications, or using certain substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol, may be at a higher risk for heatstroke and heat-related illnesses. These medications and substances can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate heat and an individual’s awareness that his or her body temperature is rising.

Visit the CDC’s Extreme Heat: A Prevention Guide To Promote Your Personal Health and Safety for information on how to prevent, recognize, and treat heat-related illnesses.

The Minnesota Olmstead Planning Committee Wants to Hear from You!

When it comes to services for people with disabilities, how well do you think current public policies and practices in Minnesota meet your needs? What’s working for you? What isn’t? These are all questions the Minnesota Olmstead Committee would like to ask.

By October 2012, this committee must develop goals, recommendations, and a timeline that will become Minnesota’s Olmstead Plan. This Plan will be submitted to the State of Minnesota through the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The Minnesota Department of Human Services will begin to implement recommended changes in 2013.

You can help shape this plan by going to the Minnesota Olmstead Planning Committee’s website. The committee wants to hear from individuals living with disabilities, their families, service providers, and concerned community members.

The site is still being developed, but check back often for more information about the Olmstead Decision and ways that you can be a part of the conversation.

Online Screening at MHAM

For the past six years, the Mental Health Association of Minnesota has partnered with Screening for Mental Health, Inc. to provide anonymous online screening for mood and anxiety disorders. Just in the last year, nearly 1,000 assessments were completed. This free online assessment only takes a few minutes to complete and screens for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. At the end of each screening, a post-assessment is provided for the individual to review. Though not a substitute for a complete evaluation, it does help determine whether or not a consultation from a health professional or clinician would be helpful. For those who have limited or no health insurance, MHAM can help find a sliding fee clinic or other medical coverage options. To speak with an advocate, call 651-493-6634 or 800-862-1799 between 9am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday. To take this mobile-friendly screening, visit the MHAM website.

Nominations Now Being Accepted for the 2012 Gloria Segal Award

MHAM is accepting nominations for the 2012 Gloria Segal Award for excellence in improving the lives of Minnesotans with mental illnesses. This award is given to honor the memory of Representative Gloria Segal. Representative Segal served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1983 until her untimely death in 1993. In her 10 years in the legislature, she worked tirelessly to change how people with mental illnesses are treated in Minnesota. She led the way in the passage of groundbreaking legislation such as mandating coverage of mental health treatment in group health insurance plans and the creation of the mental health division at the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Ombudsman’s Office for Mental Health, and the State Advisory Council.

The Gloria Segal Award is given to an individual who has improved the lives of a great number of Minnesotans with mental illnesses. Accomplishments may include:

  • Empowering people with mental illnesses
  • Clinically treating people with mental illnesses
  • Championing key legislation
  • Increasing resources for people with mental illnesses
  • Creating or improving systems of care for people with mental illnesses
  • Performing key research in the area of mental health
  • Creating a popular book/movie/play or other work of art that significantly decreases stigma

The Gloria Segal Award has been received by Representative Mindy Greiling in 2009 and Robin Wold and Hope House in Bemidji in 2011.

Do you know someone who has significantly improved the lives of Minnesotans with mental illnesses? We invite you to let us know! Please provide a short narrative including:

  • Name and phone number of the person you are nominating
  • Your name, phone number, and email
  • Nominee’s relationship to the mental health community
  • Activities which improve the lives of people with mental illnesses
  • Accomplishments in those activities

Nominations will be accepted May 15 through June 30, 2012. The award will be presented at the 3rd Annual Celebrating Recovery event on September 27, 2012.

Submit your nomination to edeide @ mentalhealthmn.org or via mail to:

Mental Health Association of Minnesota
Attn: Gloria Segal Award Nomination Committee
475 Cleveland Avenue N, Suite 222
Saint Paul, MN 55104

Hennepin County Mental Health Advisory Council (HCMHAC) 101

by Kim Lutes, MHAM volunteer

The Hennepin County Mental Health Advisory Council will meet on Thursday, March 15, 2012, at the Hosmer Library on 36th and 3rd avenue. This Thursday’s meeting is a special one because it is the first meeting of our 2012-2013 session. The council will welcome newly appointed members.  The formal meeting begins at 2:00, but members are encouraged to arrive at 1:30 for a brief gathering in honor of the new members. Since Thursday’s meeting marks the beginning of the 2012-2013 session, much of our time will focus on orienting our new members to the council– sort of like “Advisory Council 101”.  We hope this will also be a helpful review for returning council members.  In addition, Commissioner Jan Callison is scheduled to address the council. I look forward to a full meeting and a productive year.  Stay tuned for monthly updates on this blog.

Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health

by Anna Raudenbush, Client Advocate

There has long been a gap in mental health services for folks who don’t need emergency room level care, but cannot wait a couple weeks to see a provider.  Now St. Paul has a new service to fill that gap, the Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health center.  Located at 402 University Avenue East, the center is meant for anyone in Ramsey, Dakota, and Washington Counties who need immediate non-emergency mental health support.

The center is operated by the Mental Health Crisis Alliance, formerly EMACs, and managed by Ramsey County.  While they offer on-site support and walk-ins, they also operate a mobile crisis team for Ramsey County.

Going to a new place for mental health care can be nerve-wracking; it’s hard to feel comfortable when you don’t know what to expect.  Fortunately, the Urgent Care center is hosting monthly open houses on the first Friday of each month at 1PM.  These open houses are free and anyone can come, no RSVP required.  At the open house visitors will get to tour the new center.  This is a great way to get familiar with mental health services in Ramsey County and to learn how Urgent Care can be a resource for you.

You can find more information about Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health here.   For more information about the monthly open houses, you can call their front desk at 651-266-4008.

Depression and Young Adults

In the coming weeks, college students will be returning home for the holidays. For many, this break provides a time to catch up and relax with old friends and spend some quality time with family; yet for some, deep sadness and emptiness prevents them.

A recent national study conducted by the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) reported that 31 percent of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some time in the past year. In 2009, 8 percent of 18-25 year olds had a major depressive episode, but less than half received treatment according to a national survey.

Everyone feels sad or down from one time to another, but for individuals affected by depression, the symptoms are serious and long lasting. A person with depression may feel: sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, guilty, worthless, helpless, irritable, and/or restless. They may also experience one or more of the following:

• Loss of interest in activities
• Lack of energy
• Problems concentrating, remembering information, or making decisions
• Problems falling sleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much
• Loss of appetite or eating too much
• Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
• Aches, pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not go away

Depression is common and for most people, depression can be treated successfully. If you feel that you may have depression, try to be seen by a health professional as soon as possible. If you are a friend or relative encourage your loved one to seek help. It may be necessary to make an appointment and to go with them. If you have no insurance, having trouble finding a health professional, or need additional resources accessing treatment, please contact MHAM at 651-493-6634 or 800-862-1799 to talk with an advocate.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, get help quickly.
• Call your doctor.
• Call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
• Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For more information and resources on depression, visit the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) website or click on the selected NIMH publications below:

Depression in Women
Men and Depression
Depression and College Students: Answers to college students’ frequently asked questions about depression

Promoting Mental Health in the Workplace

A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that one in five adults experienced mental illness in 2009. Yet, the majority of individuals that have these types of health conditions do not seek treatment because of cost, fear of stigma, and lack of knowledge of the treatments that exist.  By educating the workforce on mental health issues, an organization can create a supportive climate that can break down the barriers of stigma and lead to steps that promote better health. The following are ideas on implementing mental health into existing health promotion and communications efforts at work.

Partner with community mental health agencies and existing benefit providers: These agencies often provide training and educational materials to community members, including area businesses.

  •  Training can include formal presentations on common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress in the workplace. If you have an employee assistance program (EAP), training or educational seminars may be part of your contracted service or may be available for an additional fee.
  •  Educational materials can include brochures, booklets, and training and resource manuals that can approach a variety of topics relating to mental health. These services are often provided at a low cost or, in some cases, free of charge.
  •  Incorporate mental health into your company’s health or wellness fair. EAPs and community agencies often provide information for employees at these events.

Add mental health information to your existing communications: Newsletters, payroll stuffers, post cards, e-mail blasts, and other communications can all help initiate your organization’s commitment to mental health.

  •  An internal newsletter can provide a great opportunity to talk about health issues. Your EAP, health care provider, or local community mental health agency may be able to provide material or assist you with the article.
  •  Payroll stuffers and post cards provide another option for reaching out to employees and their family members.
  •  Placing literature in inconspicuous areas of the workplace is also important. Instead of placing brochures in a break room or busy hallway, provide these materials in a subtle and inconspicuous place for employees, such as restrooms.
  •  Make sure that toll-free numbers and websites for the company’s EAP and health care provider, and/or the community mental health agency, are included in all mental health educational materials. Also, be sure that information about mental health benefits available from your EAP and health insurer is easily accessible on your company’s website. Promoting your benefits will create awareness and utilization.

*This information was adapted from “Mental Health at Work: A Resource Manual for Minnesota Employers.” To obtain a copy of this manual and other MHAM workplace publications, please visit the Workplace Publications Page.

Heat Alert

We’ve had a few hot days in Minnesota, and hope you all are beating the heat.

Individuals on certain medications may be more vulnerable to heat stress. Persons taking regular medication should consult with their physician.  Some medications cause an adverse reaction in hot weather, such as reducing a person’s ability to sweat. If you are on such a medication, or if you know someone who is, please take a look at these strategies for managing heat stress.

To avoid heat-related illness:

  • Avoid, as much as possible, working or playing in the hot sun or other hot areas.  If you must be out in the sun, wear a head covering and sunscreen.  A wide brimmed hat or visor will not only protect your head from intense rays of the sun; it will also provide a shield for your eyes.
  • Shut blinds and open windows slightly during the day to release trapped hot air.  Use air conditioners if you have them.
  • Wear lightweight clothing.
  • Drink plenty of water and fruit juices; avoid alcohol, carbonated or caffeinated drinks.  Because the body loses fluids in the heat, drinking lots of liquids helps to avoid dehydration.
  • Eat frequent, small meals; avoid high-protein foods
  • Take cool baths or showers—cold water can lower body temperatures 25 times faster than sitting in an air-conditioned room
  • Spend time (even 2 hours will reduce the risk of heat-related illness) in an air-conditioned environment or basement; cover windows to block direct sunlight; turn lights on low or off; use fans to blow hot air outside.  Public libraries, community centers or other similar locations may be a good option for spending some time away from the heat.
  • Do NOT direct fans to blow in at you.  Fans can actually increase heat stress.
  • Do not leave older people, children, or pets, alone in cars.

Non-emergency questions about how to stay cool—call 2-1-1 or for emergency heat-related health problems—call 9-1-1