Reducing the Stigma of Mental Health and Improving Access to Treatment

The Brown County Mental Health and Wellness Action Team (MHWAT) works throughout Brown County to reduce the stigma of mental health, improve resiliency and improve access to mental health treatment and services.

This team also works to identify policies, systems and environments that can reduce the effect of poor mental health outcomes throughout the county. Providing education to the community on the various risk factors associated with mental health is a key strategy.

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MHWHAT Priorities and Recent Accomplishments

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Resiliency Program for Local Worksites

In partnership with the Worksite Wellness Action Team, the team has offered The People Project program annually since 2020, reaching nearly 1,800 employees at local worksites to help them build resiliency through fun, evidence-based mental well-being strategies that result in better-connected, happier people.


988 Awareness Billboard

In partnership with Brown County Yellow Ribbon, the team created a billboard that went up in the fall of 2022 to help advertise the new 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, which connects individuals to caring support from a trained crisis counselor.

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Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resiliency

In 2022, in partnership with the Families First Collaborative of Brown County, the team offered multiple presentations about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Resiliency as a first step in assuring a trauma-informed foundation for schools, communities, organizations and systems. Presentations included:

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Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Trainings

Since 2019, the team has offered seven free QPR trainings to community participants to help people learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to use three simple steps — Question, Persuade and Refer — to help save a life. 

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Agriculture Outreach

In the spring of 2022, the team created 100 care bags for local farmers that were packed and distributed by New Ulm High School FCCLA students.

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“Where to Start" Resource Guide

In 2022, the team developed a flow chart/resource guide in both English and Spanish to make it easier for community members to figure out where to start when they are struggling with mental health issues. The guide helps explain the complex health system in order to help reduce inappropriate use of higher levels of care.

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Change to Chill

Since 2019, five local schools — New Ulm High School, Sleepy Eye Public School, Springfield Public School, Red Rock Central and New Ulm Middle School — have participated in the Change to Chill School Partnership (CTCSP). Change to Chill is a free, online mental well-being program offered by Allina Health that aims to help teens identify what stress is, what causes it, and, most importantly, how to manage it.

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Other Priorities

  • Partner with NAMI, NUMC Occupational Health, schools, ECFE, CAST, day cares, food shelf and others to offer educational programs aimed at improving mental health and reducing stigma, especially during awareness months of May and October
  • Participate in the Minnesota Department of Health’s new Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategic Planning Cohort; HONU was selected as one of 23 groups

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