Let’s talk mental health


Mental illness is a significant problem in our country, and even more so in Crow Wing County. Statistics show that 1 in 5 persons in the United States lives with a mental illness. Fifty percent of all lifetime cases of mental illnesses begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24. The most common mental illnesses are anxiety and depression.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24, and 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness. (Statistical source: National Association of Mental Illness.)

It’s not easy to talk about mental illness. Mostly we don’t. Who knows what to say? It’s also not easy to just listen without giving advice. Yet, research by the Veterans Administration indicates that caring contact is so important. Even a computer-generated call can reduce death by suicide. Is there a way to learn how to talk about mental illness? If you could learn how to talk and how to listen, would you?

People impacted in any way by mental illness, whether you have a mental illness diagnosis, care for someone with a diagnosis, or are just a concerned citizen, can benefit from practicing effective communication around mental health.

How do we stop stigma? Conversation. Try these simple tips for talking:


Do Say

“Thanks for opening up to me.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

“How can I help?”

“Thanks for sharing.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. It must be tough”

“I’m here for you when you need me.”

“I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”

“People do get better.”


“Oh man, that sucks.”

“Can I drive you to an appointment?”

“How are you feeling today?”

“I love you.”

Don’t Say

“It could be worse.”

“Just deal with it.”

“Snap out of it.”

“Everyone feels that way sometimes.”


“You may have brought this on yourself.”

“We’ve all been there.”

“You’ve got to pull yourself together.”

“Maybe try thinking happier thoughts.”

LET’S TALK: A workshop on keeping the conversation going

Central Lakes College, the ACEs Resiliency Coalition, Crow Wing Energized and Wise UCC (The Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive, and Engaged initiative of the United Church of Christ) are sponsoring a new mental health communications workshop being offered Nov. 5 at Central Lakes College.

Facilitators Jane Brekken, life coach, and Suzie Karsnia, CLC counselor/instructor, will guide attendees in practicing skills of listening, empathy, acknowledging your own fear, and continuing the conversation. The hope is that participants leave the workshop more equipped and empowered to keep this conversation around mental health going.

The session will include an overview of the Make It OK campaign to reduce stigma around mental illness, and learning how to “be with” yourself and someone else by practicing and role-playing communication skills around what to say and what not to say.

Pre-registration is requested, as each group is being kept to 30 people to allow for the supervised practice.


When: Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019

Session No. 1 is 2-4 p.m.

Session No. 2 is 6-8 p.m.

Where: Central Lakes College, Brainerd.

Cost: This workshop is free, but participants are asked to preregister online.


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