From the County Manager Column from May 11, 2021

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Throughout these past 14 months, one of the many challenges the pandemic has presented is in the area of mental health. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Minnesota last March, we have been providing residents and employees with mental health resources and communications right alongside traditional public health resources. This morning, the board of commissioners joined organizations throughout the country in proclaiming May as National Mental Health Awareness Month.

Watch the proclamation

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Month in Ramsey County this year is “Hope for Change.” The theme reminds us to continue to develop and rely on the hope that carried us through a year of change. One quick and easy activity to build awareness and help destigmatize mental health is to print a green ribbon and post it in a window, on a door, via social media or another location where it’s visible to others – there’s also an opportunity to use the ribbon to credit a mental health champion. Read more about Green Ribbon activities.

Throughout the month, we’re providing many engagement opportunities for our community and employees. This article on outlines 10 virtual sessions we’re offering throughout the month. The topics range from culturally appropriate resources for mental well-being to how to access crisis intervention services at Ramsey County to addressing burnout and stress in difficult times. You may recall the video message for employees, “Taking care of yourself and your mental health during COVID-19,” which Dr. Thomas Nguyen shared with us just about a year ago - the information shared there remains just as important for us now. On May 27, Dr. Nguyen will be will presenting the final session in the series: “Mental Health Support for Thriving in the Time of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Addressing Burnout and Stress in Difficult Times.” Each of these sessions is available for employees and the public alike.

In addition, our series of virtual Community Healing Circles which we kicked off last month continues through May. In partnership with the city of Saint Paul and led by professional facilitators Yolonde Adams-Lee and Nancy Avilia, these sessions support the health and well-being of our community – particularly our communities of color – during these difficult times following the trials in Minneapolis and the events surrounding them.

For employees specifically, our employee assistance program (EAP) is available 24/7 for help by phone, online or face-to-face with professional counselors through Deer Oaks. These engagements are completely confidential and HealthPartners does not share any information with Ramsey County or your health plan. In addition, our Wellness Works program hosted a webinar on the topic of “stress and relaxation” with stress-reducing techniques to incorporate into your routine.

Everyone deals with mental health in different ways. This May in the spirit of “Hope for Change," I encourage you to take time out to look at the resources offered here – or across our community – and consider giving them a try or sharing them with others. Finally, I’d like to provide thanks and recognition to all the Ramsey County employees who provide mental health services to our seniors, adults and young people through various programs each and every day at Ramsey County. This is extremely demanding work in a "normal" year – this past year especially, please know how much we appreciate your service and sacrifice on behalf of our community!