When reflecting on the past several months and weeks, there is a flood of thoughts, feelings, and emotions so complex, it is hard to put into words or actions. We put strategies and tactics in place to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. We are grieving milestones met, yet not celebrated. We remain distant from our loved ones, knowing that connection is so vital to mental wellness. Our region lost a valued law enforcement officer, husband, and father in the line of duty. To further compound our circumstances and grief, our state and our nation are experiencing the effects of the killing of George Floyd. Our communities, region, state, and country are hurting.
When we hurt and the hurt is not healed, we experience trauma and continue to hurt. When healing doesn’t happen, individuals, communities, or systems continue to hurt themselves and others. Comparing one person’s trauma or hurt to another re-traumatizes and breaks down the ability of an individual, community, or system to be mindful of their role in perpetuating trauma.
The events we are experiencing remind us of the historical trauma plaguing our country, which we are not immune to right here in northwestern Minnesota. That pain is real. To understand recent events, we also need to understand and acknowledge the long history of oppression, supremacy, injustice, and economic disparities within our region, particularly for our Ojibwe and Lakota neighbors, our Mexican and Latinx migrant workers, and anyone on the margins of poverty. We have also had a challenging agriculture industry for years, with low commodity prices, tariffs, crops left in the fields, and livestock euthanized. All of these instances and experiences create hurt, can create trauma, and with it, fear.
With all of this loss comes intense emotions. And the responses to these emotions are just as complex as the events themselves. We can mourn the loss of Officer Cody Holte’s life AND the life of Lola Moore. We can be angry about the loss of George Floyd’s life AND mourn the losses within the communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. We can have compassion for local law enforcement AND advocate for policies and practices that promote justice.
It doesn’t have to be an either-or situation. We can do both.
That is why I want to share our mission: To promote wellness and instill hope. Within our mission, we strive to be a trauma-informed system of care.
Not only do our qualified staff provide individual treatment to help people heal from trauma, but we also work toward ensuring our policies and procedures promote healing and equity. As a trusted partner throughout northwestern Minnesota, we are allies and advocates for creating spaces for individuals, communities, and systems to talk about their trauma. Trauma that brings with it fear, uncomfortability, and reinforces scarcity of tangible goods, services, and power. The healing that comes from those spaces turns into courage, sharing of knowledge, resources, and influence for the entire northwest region of Minnesota being trauma-informed.
Northwestern Mental Health Center is committed to being a partner that raises individuals, communities, and systems to thrive at their highest potential. History of trauma informs us, but it does not define us. WE — Northwestern Mental Health Center, our staff, and our community members — can define our region.
Most of all, we commit to making NWMHC a place where every human knows without a doubt, YOU are welcome within our doors.
Shauna Reitmeier serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Northwestern Mental Health Center. In addition to her leadership and management responsibilities, she is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker and sees clients at the Crookston clinic location. Shauna holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of North Dakota.