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Don’t forget about mental health

FAIRMONT — In a time where there’s a lot of uncertainties and concerns floating around, feeling stressed and anxious is normal. However it’s important to remember that mental health services are still available to anyone who needs them.

Anna Garbers is the behavioral health program manager for Human Services of Faribault and Martin counties. She works with mental health services, adult and children case managers and chemical dependency units.

“We also have psychiatric nursing services through our agency,” Garbers shared.

As with many places, most services aren’t meeting in person but they’re still getting creative with services they offer.

Garbers acknowledged that right now, everyone is affected by the changes happening due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The amount of stress going on in all levels of society right now are very real and it’s impacting everyone,” Garbers said.

“Mental health stigma is alive and well unfortunately. I think one of the important things to know is more more than 50 percent of the population will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their life,” Garbers said.

She was quick to point out that in many cases it’s based on current circumstances in someone’s life and not necessarily permanent. Either way, she said being diagnosed doesn’t change who a person is and it doesn’t need to direct their life.

“It’s important to talk about it so we can normalize it. Mental health affects every aspect of our lives and it’s so critical to how we function,” Garbers said.

While mental health problems are real and deserve attention, Garbers shared that what many people are feeling now is normal.

“Right now we’re in a once in a century situation. A lot of the things people are feeling right now are very normal,” she said.

Garbers shared that some common signs of anxiety are not being able to sleep, having racing thoughts or feeling really tired or exhausted by normal every day things. Becoming irritable, having headaches, stomachaches or increased heart rate is also normal.

Though Garbers pointed out that anxiety shows up in a a lot of different ways and will look different for each person.

Some tips to manage stress, provided by the Minnesota Department of Heath, include: avoiding excess exposure to media, including social media, taking care of yourself through exercise or meditation, eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep, talking to friends and family.

Garbers also spoke of Horizon Homes, which is a non-profit organization based out of Mankato, that offers mental health services to adults. They have implemented temporary practices to ensure staff and the clients they serve are safe.

Horizon Homes also offers a Mobile Crisis Team that is available through Telehealth connections, which makes it possible for individuals to speak to a crisis staff member 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without having to leave their home. The Mobile Crisis Team is available to people of all ages.

Anyone needing help can call Horizon Homes South Central Crisis Center at 507-344-0621.

“They have some great crisis response resources,” Garbers said.

Garbers said Headspace.com is another great resource that offers free tips for mindfulness to help people deal with stress and anxiety.

Steph Johnson, project coordinator for the Martin County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, said earlier this week she held a Zoom call with some student leaders.

“I think one of the things they appreciate is that their teachers have been doing that with them too. Being able to connect and see and talk to their friends is making it bearable for them,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she’s so grateful for technology like that that allows students to connect and see each other. One resource she also spoke of is a website: Changetochill.org

“Staying calm during uncertainty is what their headline reads when you open it up. Students helped to create the website but it works for anyone,” Johnson pointed out.

Garbers said that when people are stressed out, it’s common to reach out to loved ones.

“Even though we’re doing social-distancing, there’s still a lot of ways to stay connected to the people we love,” Garbers said.

The following is a list of mental health services in Faribault and Martin counties. Some of them are offering telehealth services at this time.

– Mayo Clinic, Fairmont

– Eunoia Family Resource Center, Fairmont

– New Directions Healing Center, Fairmont

– Joseph Switras, Clinical Psychologist, Fairmont

– Adult, Child and Family Services, LLC, Blue Earth

– United Hospital District, Blue Earth

The National Suicide Prevention Line: 800-273-8255

Mental Health Texting Service 24/7: Text MN to 741741

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