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Public Health focuses on mental health

FAIRMONT– As May is Mental Health Awareness month, staff at Community Health and Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties has used the time to bring extra attention to a topic that affects so many.

Caroline McCourt, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) Community Specialist, shared that pubic health has put on SMART training, a five week program based off research from Dr. Amit Sood and Mayo Clinic.

“They’re practical strategies you can use daily to manage stress. You’re not going to be able to mitigate stress completely, clearly it’s just part of life, but how to manage it appropriately and positively can really help to make sure we don’t get stuck,” McCourt said.

She said students at Fairmont Area Schools, Granada-Huntley-East Chain and Arise Academy have been engaged in the program.

The importance of reaching people like students at a younger age is something that McCourt stressed.

She said that based off of research from Mental Health of America, a non-profit that promotes mental health awareness, one in five people will experience a mental health diagnosis or illness in their lifetime.

“That’s a large number of people,” McCourt said.

She pointed out that many people wait years to be diagnosed or get care due to lack of providers and care available.

“Raising awareness early and often can really help people connect when they need it,” McCourt said.

She also stressed that people don’t need to have an illness or diagnosis to focus on their mental health, just like someone doesn’t need to have a diagnosis of heart disease to go running or care about their physical health.

“There’s a lot of prevention that can happen to help everyone stay mentally well whether they have a diagnosis or not,” McCourt said.

She noted that work has been done to reduce the stigma around mental health in the last few years and a larger number pf people being are more open and honest about their experiences and struggles.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also had a significant impact on people’s mental well-being.

McCourt said there are studies coming out that show the impact of social isolation, which nearly everyone experienced to some extent during the height of the pandemic either working from home or doing virtual learning.

“It definitely takes a toll on people’s mental health,” McCourt said.

A Covid-19 impact survey is still circulating locally but McCourt said they anticipate to get those results back and address whatever issues are in the community.

Public Health will be offering two upcoming trainings. The first is a mental health first aid training, which will train people on how to identify and help someone who is having a mental health crisis.

“It’s not saying this people can treat someone, but acknowledge and help,” McCourt said, noting that it’s like CPR in a way.

The other training is QPR, which is Question, Persuade, Refer and is a suicide prevention training.

“It’s teaching you how to ask questions about suicide and identify buzzwords from individuals or if you know someone who is struggling, how to have that conversation and refer them on,” McCourt said.

She said dates of the trainings will be released on their website, fmchs.com and on their Facebook page. For additional mental health resources, McCourt suggested people check out mentalhealthmn.org.

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