Mental health begins where we live, work and play.

Think about it, where do you connect to your community? Maybe you walk around your neighborhood with your neighbors, or grab lunch with coworkers in your workplace. Perhaps you’re involved in a school or college, a faith community, your local park, a business or a community service club. We all connect to our community in different ways, which means we all have opportunities for us to improve our communities mental well-being and help prevent suicide.

September is National Suicide Prevention month. Now is a perfect opportunity to talk about suicide prevention and mental wellness. The National Strategy for Suicide Prevention emphasizes that we all play a role in preventing suicide. Communities and individuals must be empowered in their role to prevent suicide and promote positive mental well-being.

Spark conversations with others about suicide prevention in your community, and the ways we can all work to prevent suicide. Remember, suicide is preventable, mental illness is treatable and recovery is possible. While conversations often center on the barriers -- the things that make it feel impossible to address an issue -- there are tangible ways that we can all make a difference.

Organizations can, and should, make a concerted effort to prevent suicide. Health care and behavioral health care organizations can implement written policies and procedures to help staff identify patients that may be having thoughts of suicide, and determining appropriate treatment options. The Minnesota Department of Health Zero Suicide Model provides a framework for heath and behavioral health care organizations to implement practices to prevent suicide.

Nonprofit, faith-based and community organizations can form or participate in local coalitions that practice suicide prevention at the community level. They can also offer classes and training on suicide prevention and mental wellness to help individuals and organization staff feel more comfortable talking about suicide and sharing resources. Businesses and employers can create a wellness plan that encourages employees to take care of both physical and mental health needs. Schools, colleges and universities can implement programs that encourage connectedness and promote mental wellness.

Individuals can participate in training, like those offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota. Trainings can help you learn how to build up your community, or recognize when someone is struggling with thoughts of suicide and how to connect them to community supports.

If you are concerned a person you know may be struggling with a difficult situation, you can ask them if they are thinking about suicide and linking them to supports and resources. Asking directly about suicide can help show care, concern, and a willingness to help. Take a moment to learn the warning signs of suicide, and how you can help.

In a time of crisis there are three resources that can help. Take a moment to save these resources into your phone. You might not need them today, but if you or a friend does need them, you’ll be prepared.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline -- 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line -- text MN to 741741

Your local mobile crisis number. Find your county mobile crisis number at the Department of Human Services website, Minnesota Mobile Mental Health Crisis Services.

Many organizations and communities set aside time during the month of September to bring suicide prevention and mental well-being into focus through a variety of learning opportunities.

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center has a number of Suicide Prevention Month Ideas for Action. Take advantage of opportunities to learn more and think about what role you can play in preventing suicide in your community.

Local mental fitness events

The Crow Wing Energized Mental Fitness and Adverse Childhood Experiences & Resiliency Coalition share the below local events open to the community.

Make It OK

Learn how we can all play a part in reducing mental health stigma. When we start talking, we realize that mental illnesses are more common and relatable than we think. And more importantly, people experiencing mental illnesses will be treated with respect, acceptance and be more apt to get the care they need. There are two session options:

  • 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, Forestview Middle School, Baxter.

  • 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, Forestview Middle School, Baxter

To register, go to www.isd181.org and click on Community Ed or call 218-454-6924.

QPR: Question, Persuade, and Refer

Learn the three steps anyone can take to help prevent suicide. Just like CPR, QPR is an emergency response to someone in crisis and can save lives. This one-hour class is for members of the community over the age of 16 who want to learn best practices in suicide prevention.

3:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, Crow Wing County Land Services, Brainerd. Go to

www.crowwingenergized.org/events for registration information.

Good Mental Health in the Workplace

Join Kay King from the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Minnesota to learn the things you can do to create a workplace that values good mental health. Participants will learn how to promote good mental health (including dealing with stress), the common symptoms of a mental illness, how attitudes and language impact people with mental illnesses, and accommodations for a mental illness.

Creating Caring Communities

King from the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Minnesota will provide more about mental illnesses, the impact of negative attitudes and five things each of us can do to make Minnesota a better place for people who experience a mental illness.

5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Crow Wing County Land Services, Brainerd. Go to www.crowwingenergized.org/events for more information.

Mental Health First Aid - Older Adults

Learn basic skills needed to help a person who is experiencing a mental health problem or crisis. Learn about common mental illnesses and co-occurring disorders with a focus on older adults. This workshop is for individuals seeking basic information on geriatric mental health issues. It is not intended for professionals who have a background in mental health.

  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (lunch provided) Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Heartwood Assisted Living, Crosby. Contact Gina Heyer 218-824-1237 or gina.heyer@crowwing.us for registration information.

Conflict Coaching: The Role of Awareness

Coaching people through conflict vs. confronting can lead to better outcomes. This workshop will introduce the fundamental concepts of conflict coaching and provide opportunities to practice in small groups.

  • 10 a.m. - noon Monday, Oct. 14, at Essentia Health – St. Joseph’s Medical Center Brainerd. Go to www.crowwingenergized.org/events for registration information