NWMHC Receives Award of Excellence

Northwestern Mental Health Center (NWMHC) has been recognized for its invaluable contributions to the behavioral health care field by The National Council for Behavioral Health.

“We reserve our Awards of Excellence for those with distinguished achievements in behavioral health care, and I’m incredibly proud to give this award to Northwestern Mental Health Center,” National Council for Behavioral Health President and CEO Chuck Ingoglia said.

The National Council Innovation Award is given to those who increasingly think “outside of the box” in search of creative solutions to challenges faced by staff, patients, families, and communities. This award recognizes the innovations and unparalleled achievements of National Council members. NWMHC is one of seven organizations that received the National Council’s Award of Excellence this year.

“Receiving this award signifies that NWMHC is creating a space where people in their most vulnerable moments feel like they can get what they need to thrive. This culture is rooted in the commitment and dedication of our entire team, all of whom are willing to jump in and deliver new services and structure new processes so our clients can receive the best possible care,” says Shauna Reitmeier, CEO at NWMHC.

Read Shauna’s spotlight interview: Moving Behavioral Health Care Mountains in Rural Minnesota.

About the National Council for Behavioral Health
The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with our 3,326 member organizations serving over 10 million adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions, the National Council is committed to all Americans having access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery. The National Council introduced Mental Health First Aid USA and more than 2 million Americans have been trained.

NWMHC Clinic in East Grand Forks Temporarily Closed

On April 4, 2020, Northwestern Mental Health Center was notified of water within our East Grand Forks clinic location due to leakage from the roof. Clinic operations at that location have been suspended pending damage assessment and completion of necessary repairs to the space. 

“Although the closure of our East Grand Forks office is inconvenient, the availability of telemedicine allows continuity of care for our clients while assuring everyone is safe during this critical time,” says Tammy Hickel Zola, CFO at Northwestern Mental Health Center. “Polk County is working diligently with various partners to assure first and foremost the office is clear of any potential contamination, and secondly to allow operations to resume as quickly as possible.”

Clients impacted by this closure have been contacted and alternative arrangements made to allow continuity of service while the office is closed. For those who wish to schedule an appointment with one of our East Grand Forks providers, please contact our main office at 218-281-3940. If you have questions or concerns related to this temporary closure, please email [email protected].

Building Resilient Communities Through Self-Care

For the last three weeks, we start each day thinking, “Today things are going to stabilize. Today we’ll hit a plateau.” But for the past month, regular updates from Governor Walz, new reports from the CDC, and revised guidance from our state and local public health agencies have kept us on our toes. If we’ve learned anything so far, it’s how resilient we are. Our employees, clients, partners, and communities have stepped up.

We’ve watched heartfelt videos from school teachers and staff, pouring out their love for our children. Parents are hosting virtual birthday parties to keep families connected. Employees are extending more grace and patience to their co-workers. Drive through any neighborhood, and you’re bound to see paper hearts on the windows of at least one home or business. These are examples of how we’re adjusting to this new world, finding our new norm while we cope with the effects of COVID-19.

In the coming weeks and months, your mental health will become even more important. Functioning in this physically isolated environment like this is not easy for most people. If you aren’t practicing and modeling self-care and wellness, you may start seeing some challenges at home and with those in your household.

Our message to you today: We are here to help you build resiliency and prepare for what lies ahead. Whatever your situation looks like right now, we have resources and options to support you.

“You don’t have to be in crisis or have suicidal thoughts to use our crisis line. It’s normal to feel some additional anxiety and stress during a global pandemic,” says CEO of Northwestern Mental Health Center, Shauna Reitmeier. “Call our mobile crisis team before you reach a breaking point. Our team is trained to assist in these situations.”

Typically, our Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) receives four to five calls each day. Roughly 60 percent of the calls originate in Polk county. The other 40 percent comes from Mahnomen, Norman, Red Lake, Marshall, Kittson, Pennington, and Roseau counties. While we saw a slight drop in calls the third week of March, calls have been steady.

“About 15 percent of calls between March 16 and April 8 were related to anxiety and worries due to COVID-19,” says Christie Wisk, Mental Health Practitioner on our MCRT.

Since March 23, we’ve been supporting crisis callers through telemedicine when possible. Before that, our MCRT was activated and met with individuals face-to-face for approximately half of the calls. The other half were resolved over the phone. In the last two weeks, we’ve used telemedicine to resolve 70 percent of our crisis calls.

“This is a win-win. It’s safer for callers and our employees. Seeing someone through telemedicine feels more connected and warmer than just talking on the phone. We can see the individual, read body cues, and evaluate the environment around them,” says Wisk. “And if the situation requires face-to-face interaction, we’re still going to go. But we’re taking extra precautions in those instances now, to keep everyone healthy.”

With so many uncertainties, NWMHC providers like Wisk hope to see more people reach out in April and May. Overall, we’ve modified the delivery of all our services.  Most of our providers now offer therapy, case management, and rehabilitation services from their homes using technology. And individuals can receive NWMHC services from anywhere using a phone, smartphone, or computer. 

But there’s concern that as time goes on, people will need more support. We’ve put processes in place to connect with current clients, and we have openings for new clients. We’re exploring ways to reach those who may not have access to technology to connect through telemedicine. Or people who don’t have a safe place to request and receive mental and chemical health care services. We’re also discussing how we can best support first responders, teachers, and those experiencing financial hardships due to COVID-19.

“Support from federal, state, and local governments has been critical in the last few weeks. It’s clear no one wants a mental health crisis to follow this pandemic,” says Reitmeier. “As funding and programs roll out and open doors, people should expect to see more opportunities for receiving mental health care in their communities.”

Northwestern Mental Health Center is a pathfinder and innovator in the mental health care industry, not just in Minnesota, but nationally. We will continue to advocate for the people we serve and do everything we can to build resilient families and communities. We are in this together. And we will make it through this together.

5 Steps to Living with Uncertainty During Coronavirus

Psychology Today – In the last few weeks, with the coronavirus making its rounds around the world, there is more uncertainty as to what we’ll be doing in the next few months, weeks, or even days than many of us can remember experiencing in a very long time.

In the face of this uncertainty, do you find yourself scouring the internet for answers to all the questions running through your mind? Are you playing out all the what-if scenarios that your mind creatively supplies in large quantities in the hope that if something terrible actually happens, you’ll be better prepared? Do you find that much of your time and energy is devoted to either figuring out answers to questions that don’t have answers or trying not to think about the scary possibilities, all unsuccessfully?

If the answer to any of that is yes, rest assured, you are not alone. Uncertainty is one of the most difficult human experiences. Uncertainty means not having control over what might happen to us. We don’t do so well when we don’t have a sense of control – we may feel more anxious and more depressed and be more susceptible to pain and physical illnesses. Because a sense of control is so vital to our health and well-being, our minds go to great lengths to gain a sense of control in the face of uncertainty.

The actions that you may have found yourself engaging in recently – searching the internet for answers, playing out what-if scenarios, repeatedly worrying about what might happen in the future – are all an attempt by your mind to gain a sense of control. If you cannot have actual control, your mind attempts to make you feel as if you have control. If you think of enough what-if scenarios, and if you can find enough answers, you’ll be in control of what happens.

Of course, none of this actually gives you more control. Uncertainty is inevitable. Futile attempts to get rid of it take up a lot of your time and energy. As a result, you feel anxious and drained, and in no more control of uncertainty than before.

I am not suggesting that you should not have a plan for how to handle illnesses and other urgent situations. It is helpful to have a flexible plan for what to do to protect yourself and others. However, it is impossible to think through every scenario. Attempts to do that drain you of time, energy, and resources, and don’t leave enough to respond adaptively and resiliently to real-time changes in circumstances, usually ones you have not thought of or could have predicted.

Therefore, I suggest putting in the effort to create a flexible plan once, without repeatedly going over it. Your plan should focus on what is reasonably under your control. For example, regarding the coronavirus, it is helpful to have a plan that is consistent with CDC guidelines for how to reduce the risk of infection and what to do if you fall ill. It is helpful to decide what to do about planned vacations or large social events, or when to keep yourself away from others. On the other hand, it is not helpful to try to figure out whether and by how much the official statistics are inaccurate, who in your neighborhood may have been exposed, or whether this virus is still going to be around in six months.

Once you’ve made a plan based on what is under your control, the goal is to allow yourself to experience uncertainty, disengage from attempts to get rid of it, and allow yourself to respond to the discomfort of uncertainty in helpful ways.

Read more…

About the Author: Inna Khazan, Ph.D., BCB, is a clinical psychologist who teaches at Harvard Medical School.
Online: Boston Center for Health Psychology and BiofeedbackTwitterLinkedIn

Updates Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

As the world works diligently to manage and reduce the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Northwestern Mental Health Center (NWMHC) is taking steps aligned with the guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as recommendations from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. We want to provide an update on NWMHC’s response to these health concerns.

• We ask staff and clients to stay home if you are ill. If you have any symptoms of respiratory illness, please reschedule your appointment to protect the health and safety of all our clients and staff. Symptoms of respiratory illness could include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, or shortness of breath.

• We ask all clients to wash their hands (or use hand sanitizer) when entering and leaving our facilities.

• We will screen all visitors to our facilities. We are working to establish the screening process and plan to implement it by Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

• We are enhancing our routine cleaning schedule and focusing on regularly touched surfaces. Hand sanitizer, disposable wipes, and masks are available at all clinic locations.

• Due to the closure of all K-12 schools in Minnesota, NWMHC is working with school administrators to determine the best way to support students while schools are closed. We anticipate further updates on this in the coming days.

• Support groups and gatherings of more than ten people are canceled or postponed.

• We will continue regular business operations for individual and small group clinic and community-based services with some additional precautions. During appointments, participants should remain six feet apart in accordance with MDH and CDC guidelines.

We are closely monitoring this evolving situation, and our leaders are meeting regularly to continue to prepare. We will provide regular updates on our website and Facebook account, so please check back often. Clients will receive direct communication regarding appointment changes via text, email, or phone call.

Our priority is the health and safety of our community, our country, and our world, especially those who are more at risk of contracting COVID-19.

The Minnesota Department of Health has a hotline for questions the general public has about COVID-19. The hotline is open Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. at 651-201-3920. You may also contact NWMHC with your COVID-19 questions and concerns at [email protected].

If you are feeling distressed or want additional support during this time, call our 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 800-282-5005 or contact a Trained Crisis Counselor by texting MN to 741741.

Reframing Fears and Anxiety about Coronavirus

As Coronavirus progresses closer to home, fear and anxiety about the outbreak can be overwhelming. It’s important to acknowledge the impact it has on our mental health, not just our physical health. It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a traumatic event. While we’re not experts on COVID-19, we can help you with tips to keep yourself emotionally healthy.

Stay Informed Through Trusted Sources
One of the best things you can do is stay informed, using trusted sources for updates. Reliable sources of information are advice and facts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Keep Perspective
Excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19 can cause us to go down a path of unhelpful or unhealthy thinking. “While it is important to have basic details and facts to protect you and your loved ones, it is important to keep our perspective,” adds Janet Denison, Chief Clinical Officer at the NWMHC.

“Our lives have much more happening than the current news and concerns. A balanced strategy could include: Know the facts, especially the ones most important to your unique situation, do the things you can do to keep yourself and your sphere of influence safe and well, and then go along with the rest of your whole life focusing with gratitude and hope.”

Remember to take breaks from watching the news. Focus on what you can control and do things you enjoy. If you experience intense emotions, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that these feelings will fade.

Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is even more crucial when your mental health isn’t at 100%. “Taking extra good care of ourselves whenever we are able, especially during high-stress times, will benefit you and so many others in the long run,” says Denison.

Try different ways to relax your body and mind like meditation, yoga or stretching, reading, or journaling. Eat healthy food, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and avoid drugs and alcohol. And of course, practicing good hand hygiene and cough etiquette is the best protection against respiratory illnesses such as influenza and COVID-19. 

Make a Plan
Being prepared helps to minimize the anxiety of the unknown. By creating a plan when you are thinking clearly, you can reduce the stress you may feel should the outbreak impact you directly. Make a list of food, supplies, medications, and contacts you and your family need if you needed to stay home for two weeks. Talk to your kids about COVID-19 and your plans, so they have a chance to process and prepare for what might happen. If you live alone, reach out to your support network and share your plan with someone.

Connect with Others
Sharing your concerns and how you are feeling with friends and family can be therapeutic. Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, and loneliness. During times of social distancing, quarantine, and isolation, you can use email, text messaging, social media, Skype, and FaceTime to stay connected.

If distress impacts your daily routine and activities, or you are experiencing symptoms of extreme stress, speak to a counselor or health care provider using the resources listed below.

If you feel like you want to harm yourself or someone else, call our 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 800-282-5005 5005 or contact a Trained Crisis Counselor by texting MN to 741741.

CDC Resources:
What you need to know about coronavirus disease 2019
Symptoms of Coronavirus Disease 2019
What to do if you are sick with coronavirus disease 2019
Stop the spread of germs
National Resources:
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
World Health Organization (WHO)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Local Resources:
Northwestern Mental Health Center
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)
Polk County Public Health
Norman- Mahnomen County Public Health
Red Lake County Public Health

Who am I if I am not a farmer anymore?

By Natalina Sents

Successful Farming – Let’s face it, transitioning to a niche market or picking up more work is not a solution for every farmer facing hard times. Some will need to stop farming. While that may be hard, it can also be an opportunity.

Outside agriculture, career shifts are often seen as a way to advance, points out Extension educator Megan Roberts. “In other occupations, if we switch jobs, that’s not seen in any way as a failure,” she says.

Here’s a look at how to stop farming and the opportunities that come with the change. Ending a career in farming begins with making a decision.

Mental health practitioner Shauna Reitmeier explains, “In some situations, that decision is something you’re choosing to do on your own without any external pressures, and in some situations, you have to do it in order to sustain. We know that this current environment we’re in, many farmers dealing with commodity prices and weather situations are needing to decide, ‘Do I liquidate? Do I need to sell half of my dairy cattle, or not?’ ”

Anxiety and worries about the unknown are totally normal, she says. To keep from getting overwhelmed, it is important to recognize what is in your control and what you can’t control.

Keeping your values front and center as you make decisions may ease the heartache of difficult choices. Ask yourself, what are the two or three values that drive you to get up every day? Read more…

Psychiatry Medication Providers Just In Time Scheduling

New Procedures for Medication Management Appointments

Northwestern Mental Health Center is developing processes that will increase access to services for existing and new clients in need of psychiatry and medication services. Upwards of 30% of our scheduled appointments are missed. This leaves individuals in need of appointments unable to access services when needed, or appointments are scheduled so far out that the immediate need has subsided.

In an effort to resolve this issue, NWMHC is implementing what we are calling Just In Time Scheduling. The goal is for existing clients to receive a follow-up appointment within 5-7 business days from when they call.

For example, if you have an appointment with your medication provider on July 1st, and the provider wants you to come back in 2 months, the staff will give you a reminder card that says, “To schedule your follow-up appointment with the medication provider, please call (218) 281-3940 on: August 26th”. When you call on August 26th, the access staff will schedule your appointment with your medication provider between August 29th and September 5th (5 to 7 business days).

Open Access Hours for New Clients

We’ve also implemented Open Access blocks for new patients in need of an initial psychiatry service. New clients can call or walk-in during these Open Access times without making an appointment. 

Crookston | Adults
10:00am-12:00pmCrookston | Children
10:00am-11:00am(may expand time after evaluation)
East Grand Forks | Adults
Monday – Thursday
10:00am-12:00pmEast Grand Forks | Children
Warren | Adults
Monday, every other week*
10:00am-12:00pm*Start date TBD

Missed Appointments

If you miss a scheduled appointment without notifying NWMHC within 48 hours of your scheduled appointment, you will have to see a medication provider on a walk-in basis. The provider may not be who you normally see, your appointment may be over telehealth, and walk-in refill blocks are limited. We will NOT be able to call medication refills into your pharmacy until you have successfully completed the walk-in appointment.

Walk-In Refill Clinic Hours

Crookston | Adults
4:00-5:00 pmCrookston | Children
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
7:30-8:30 am
East Grand Forks | Adults
Monday – Thursday
4:00-5:00 pmEast Grand Forks | Children
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
7:30-9:30 am

The walk-in appointment is a brief appointment to continue your CURRENT medications.

Thank you for your patience as we implement this new system to better serve you. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 218-281-3940. 

Women in Agriculture conference focuses on self-care

By Carol Ryan Dumas

Capital Press – Not many people like stress, but it was the center of conversation at Saturday’s Women in Agriculture Conference, hosted by Washington State University.

The conference was delivered digitally to about 700 women at more than 30 locations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska in an effort to help farm women cultivate personal resiliency.

“A healthy you is going to mean a healthy farm,” Shauna Reitmeier, a third-generation farmer who specializes in behavioral health with the Northwestern Mental Health Center in Minnesota, said.

There are tools women can use to focus on self-care and alleviate stress before it becomes an illness, she said.

For some people, stress can be neutral — it just rolls off their back. In some cases, it can be positive — motivating them to meet deadlines. But it can also be negative — and that’s where it can really impact people, she said.

Stress can become overwhelming due to different priorities competing for a woman’s time, external and self-expectations, financial issues and worry. That can cause people to internalize and stop communicating, affecting the individuals, their families and their employees, she said. Read more…

After historically bad harvest, farmers invited for coffee and conversation

Crookston Times – On the heels of a historically bad and/or difficult 2019 harvest, area farmers and their significant others were invited to “Coffee, Conversation and Community Support” events on Saturday, one in Crookston and one in East Grand Forks.

“The message we want to get out is you’re not alone out there,” Brenda Mack tells the Times.

Mack, of Brenda Mack Consulting, was one of the hosts/sponsors of the events, along with Northwestern Mental Health Center, the Brekken and Adams farms, HOPE Coalition and CHS.

Source: https://www.crookstontimes.com/news/20191216/after-historically-bad-harvest-farmers-invited-for-coffee-and-conversation