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, offered The People Project program in 2020 and 2021 reaching approximately 1,500 employees at six worksites to help them build resiliency through fun, evidence-based mental well-being strategies that result in better-connected, happier people.

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Self-Care Challenge

Created and offered a 30-day self-care challenge during Mental Health Awareness Month in May 2021 to encourage people to start practicing good self-care habits.

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Social Isolation Project

Created and launched a social isolation project where 10-15 students have partnered with Oak Hills Living Center to do one-on-one virtual chats and eight weeks of Friday night virtual music sessions with community members/students. The virtual music sessions may expand to Woodstone Senior Living.

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Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Trainings

Offered four free QPR trainings in 2019 to 120 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. Hosted two additional free QPR trainings with 22 community participants during Suicide Prevention Awareness month in September and October 2021.

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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.

New Ulm Middle School had two students do an internship with the Change to Chill program during the summer of 2021. They have helped roll the program out at the middle school. During September 2021, the Change to Chill website had 121 page views from New Ulm.

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Other Priorities

  • Partner with Brown County Public Health to offer the ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) training and create an implementation plan
  • 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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