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Mental health services available

Above: Human Services of Faribault and Martin Counties staff of all departments come together to raise awareness for mental health in May.

FAIRMONT — May is mental health awareness month. Anna Garbers is the Behavioral Health Program Manager for Human Services of Faribault & Martin Counties and she shares that the agency is engaging in efforts to help raise awareness about mental health and resources in rural communities.

“Throughout the month of May, we’re working on various efforts around the two counties we serve to raise awareness around mental health and substance use disorders,” she said. “Primarily what we’re doing will include some social media outreach, we have staff putting yard signs out with information about crisis services, and then I’ve been reaching out to different leaders in the communities, specifically fire chiefs, to talk to them and their staff about mental health resources.”

Garbers said that the most important message she wants to share is the belief that mental health affects everyone.

“If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. Struggling with mental health symptoms can be very isolating and scary, and we want people to know there are options and resources for help.

“People can call in to our agency if they want a list of resources,” she said. “We have some really great options for therapists and other mental health services in our two counties. A silver lining of the pandemic is that it has drastically expanded telehealth and mental health services via telehealth, so people can find a therapist or provider pretty much anywhere in the state at this point if telehealth is a good option for them.”

Another resource Garbers would like to point people to is Horizon Homes, Inc. in Mankato.

“They provide crisis services for our two counties,” she said. “That includes a 24/7 crisis line at 1-877-399-3040, a mobile crisis unit, and then they have a crisis center located in Mankato which is for people 18 and over.”

Garbers went on to state that mental illness is common, and she believes it is important for people to be taking care of their mental health at every stage of their life.

“It affects every aspect of who we are and what we do,” she said. “It can affect different relationships, our work, our physical health, and how we adapt and cope with life changes.”

Garbers also says the problem is a growing one, aggravated by the pandemic.

“Typically the CDC says that about one in five Americans are affected by mental health and substance use disorders each year. But right now with the pandemic, the most recent estimates say it’s about 44 percent of Americans who are struggling with some kind of mental health or substance use disorder during the pandemic.

“So we’ve seen a pretty significant rise in people who are struggling. Within our agency we provide substance use assessments. We also have mental health case management as well as mental health nursing services and a drop in center for consumers socialize and participate in different activities.

“One of the important goals of this campaign is to normalize talking about mental health. I think it becomes much harder to reach out for help if you feel like you’re the only one person struggling with it, so we have to talk about to to make sure people know it’s not just them.”

Garbers went on to state that she believes a key difference between mental illness and physical illness is that those with mental illness can often feel afraid to come forward.

“It could include fear of silence or labeling. People might feel ashamed or fear negative attitudes about it, or that they will feel discriminated against or misunderstood. So there are a lot of those perspectives out there, which is why we’re working so hard to make sure people feel like they’re not alone.”

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