The percentage of ninth grade students who reported that they had mental health concerns lasting six months or more increased from 12.5% in 2013 to 17.3% in 2016 and 23.1% in 2019. The percentage of 11th graders who said they seriously considered suicide in the past year increased from 9.7% in 2013 to 12% in 2016 and 13.3% in 2019.

Allina Health is trying to make an impact on those numbers, compiled from the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS) administered by the Minnesota Department of Education every three years.

“We want to raise awareness of this resource that has been created and is free for use to our community,” said Kaitlin Codner, nurse educator with Allina Health. “We want to help build resiliency and coping skills and help them start thinking of ways to have those conversations with teens.”

Allina Health recently hosted two Change to Chill training sessions for the north metro, one on Oct. 25 at White Bear Lake City Hall and another on Oct. 28 at the Centennial Library. Change to Chill, which was launched in 2014, is a free online mental well-being program that aims to help identify what stress is, what causes it and, most importantly, how to manage it. The website includes resources, lessons and activities that are tailored to teens and educators/parents. Techniques include mindfulness, life balance, mindful movement and guided imagery.

Over the past two years, Allina Health has offered nearly 100 training sessions across its service area. “We see a lot of variety in attendance ... teachers, community leaders, directors for youth programs, YMCAS, nonprofits, volunteer services staff, counselors and even grandparents,” Codner explained.

Centennial Library Branch Manager Mary Healy was one of the 15 registered for the session in the Quad area. “We work with all different age groups here at the library, teens being one of them. It’s important to know how we as community members can support teens in short term and long term,” she said. “I am also a parent to a pre-teen, so I wanted some tools for me to help my child as he begins to navigate through the stressful teen years.”

One of the main goals of the training sessions is to familiarize attendees with the Change to Chill website and all it has to offer. All of the content, activities and videos are designed in partnership with high school interns. “We want it to be realistic, relevant and relatable,” Codner said. “We want those who attend our sessions to feel confident and able to use our website and program as a resource.”

Healy said she felt the training was very useful. “I hope to take the resources we got and dive in a little deeper and see what we can do here at the library,” she said. “A lot of the information we learned is useful for all of us in our everyday lives, so will be helpful at work and at home.”

Allina Health also has a Change to Chill School Partnership program, which works with schools directly to create things such as “chill weeks” and “chill zones.”

“Mental health is such a much-needed conversation right now,” Codner explained. “Mental health is health.”

For more information about Change to Chill, or to access the free resources, visit changetochill.org.

 

Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or quadnews@presspubs.com

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