Mental Well-Being and Resilience Learning Community - Minnesota Department of Health

Mental Well-Being and Resilience Learning Community

Last Tuesday of each month - 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

The Minnesota Department of Health leads a monthly learning opportunity for anyone who is interested in building resilience and promoting mental well-being.

Learn: About effective well-being strategies and practical implementation steps from communities across Minnesota.

Dream: About creating thriving communities, families and youth.

Plan: Community and state action plans. Develop opportunities to partner with people in your community who are interested mental well-being and resilience.

Details: This is an interactive monthly statewide webinar and local discussion.

Webinars spotlight innovative strategies to promote mental well-being and resilience, emphasizing community-based and community-driven initiatives. Gatherings will include practice discussions, sharing similar efforts in your location, relevant research or resources, networking, and planning next steps.

Registration: See registration links for each session below.

Learning Community Resources:

2020 Learning Sessions

Getting Back on Track

June 2020 COVID-19 Announcement

Spring 2020 Learning Community sessions that were cancelled due to COVID-19 have been rescheduled. Summer 2020 make-up sessions will be available to everyone online. In order to cover all of the topics for 2020, sessions are scheduled on dates outside of our typical last Tuesday of each month.

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” – Plato

COVID has inspired and required technology solutions.

Sessions will be held via WebEx. Participants will be put in small groups for discussion based on the city and county that they indicate in the registration.  

Mental Well-being in the Age of COVID: Need Now More than Ever
As we move into a different phase of the COVID response, the ongoing need for mental well-being and the long term implications of COVID are increasingly clear. From social connections and access to nature, to addressing the impact of trauma, an array of solutions are essential. We hope the strategies highlighted in these sessions are of interest to you and that you join us. Each presenter will do their best to also address COVID specific needs and opportunities relevant to their initiative or program.


SEPTEMBER 29, 2020

Take a Pause - Put a Policy in Place:  Digital Wellbeing for Home, School, and Workplace

Maree Hampton and KK Myers Register for September 29th

Maree Hampton, MEd
KK Myers, MEd
Co-Founders of Live More Screen Less

Rampant and unmitigated technology use threatens our mental, cognitive, social, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Schools and organizations have an opportunity to implement key policies and practices to support a more balanced relationship with technology and to promote well-being. LiveMore ScreenLess is listening with intention and leading the conversation about digital wellbeing in Minnesota. They have surveyed hundreds of educators, parents, and students from middle school, high school and college to better understand how screen overuse impacts wellbeing. Constantly Connected is a two-minute teaser from LiveMore's ListenIn video series featuring young people sharing their experiences with a 24/7 connected world. LiveMore's presentations across Minnesota, from the Iron Range to small town Minnesota to the Metro area, make the case for an urgent call to action to put policies and systems in place that promote screening well. We all have a role to play to protect the wellbeing of young people: students, school leaders, parents, state legislators, public health, and business leaders. Join us to learn more about how LiveMore promotes overall Digital Wellbeing in partnership with schools and businesses across Minnesota.


Handle With Care Pilot Project: A Police and School Systems Response to Trauma
Register for September 8

Scott Kent, Michelle Bethke-Kaliher, Amy Reineke Scott Kent, Alexandria Police Captain
Michelle Bethke-Kaliher, PhD.
Director of Student Support Services
Alexandria School District
Amy Reineke, Community Health Strategist, Horizon Public Health

Expanding trauma informed care practices across systems are critical to help systems avoid re-traumatizing children and to mitigate the impact of trauma. Handle With Care is a program to help law enforcement and schools respond to children who are experiencing some family disruption. Handle with Care is a process where law enforcement officers notify schools when a child or their family has had any sort of encounter with law enforcement the previous night. School partners implements individual, class and whole school trauma-sensitive curricula so that traumatized children are “Handled With Care". This is an important strategy especially given that parent incarceration is the most frequently reported adverse childhood experience among Minnesota youth.

Alexandria and Little Falls are two Minnesota communities that have implemented Handle with Care. Alexandria Police Department and School District implemented Handle with Care in 2019 and will share their insights about model implementation based on their experiences and the child and system benefits identified to date. The Alexandria process for establishing this program including key steps for building the police-school relationship, staff orientation, staffing and other steps will be shared for participants to understand what it would take to implement this model in your community.

AUGUST 25, 2020

Club Mom and Club Dad: Linking Parents to Concrete Supports, Relationships and Community
Register for August 25

Ramsey County Public Health Leaders:
Ramsey County Public Health Leaders Tamiko Ralstad, Public Health Nurse Clinician
LaSherion McDonald, Health Educator, Doula and Certified Lactation Educator
Sharron Berkley, Public Health Nurse
Wiliiam Moore, Health Educator, Doula and Lactation Educator
Thomas ‘TC’ Chatman, Health Educator 2, Club Dad Group Facilitator

A two-generation approach to promoting mental well-being and resilience means supporting families and parents to meet their basic needs, to reduce the stress families are carrying so that they can effectively support their children. According to the Center for the Study of Social Policy Strengthening Families model, concrete supports in times of need is a foundational strategy for promoting resilient children.

The Clubs were designed to address adverse birth outcomes in the African American community. Club Mom and Club Dad is available to families with children 0-5 years that live, play, work and pray in Ramsey County. Club Mom and Club Dad links participants to concrete supports, promotes social connectedness and creates a consistent safe space to build community networks and a village of protective factors that are culturally relevant and promotes physical and mental well-being. Club Mom and Dad participants are viewed as community ambassadors where information is shared and parents are recognized as the first teachers of their children. In addition to group connections, families with younger children have the option of receiving ongoing case management from Parent Educators through an Evidence-Based Home Visiting Model, Parents As Teachers® (PAT). PAT® home visits and groups connections include components of Parent-Child Interactions, Family Wellness Resources and Developmental Centered Parenting.

AUGUST 11, 2020

Yellow Zones: A Place Where You Can Flourish
Register for August 11

Brittany Pfannenstein,  Stearns County Public Health Coordinator
Dani Protivinsky DrPH, MPH , Stearns County  Public Health Coordinator

Brittany Pfannenstein and Dani Protivinsky

According to Dr. Corey Keyes, less than 20% of the US population is flourishing. The Yellow Zone is and a resiliency initiative created by Stearns County Public Health to help schools, businesses, and the community establish environments that support the health and well-being individuals based on positive psychology research. A Yellow Zone promotes mental well-being through five basic pillars - Helping, Socializing, Learning, Playing, and Spirituality. All five of these components nurture the psychological, emotional and social aspects of mental health. Yellow Zones are intended to cultivate an environment that supports a flourishing community! Stearns County Public Health developed and implemented a Yellow Zone pilot initiative in 2019 with community partners including schools, worksites, and local public health. In 2020 Steans is launching conversations with new community partners around ways to help youth and the aging adult population to thrive, including integrated partnerships with Health and Human Services.  Implementing the Yellow Zone initiative across multiple sectors has helped Stearns County expand the focus on mental health to include factors that support flourishing.

JULY 28, 2020

Amplifying the Mental Well-being Elements of SNAP Education in Minnesota
Register for July 28 Chelsea Williams

Chelsea Williams, MPH
University of Minnesota Extension, SNAP Ed Program

Minnesota Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) programs inherently support mental wellness by creating opportunities for social connection and by co-creating with community members to support community needs. Our educators also support well-being by identifying strategies that increase access to healthy foods, enhance skills to prepare nutritious meals at home, and develop action steps to incorporate physical activity into daily routines.

In 2019, our SNAP-Ed team within Health and Nutrition, at the University of Minnesota Extension, began to explore strategies to intentionally enhance mental wellness initiatives through our nutrition and physical activity programming. As a part of the SNAP-Ed 2020 plan, we created a mental flourishing team that will develop action plans to support the mental well-being of both our participants and our Extension staff. This webinar will share the process, actions, and key learning to date. 

JULY 21, 2020: A Special COVID Session from 10:00-11:00 AM

Tools to Screen Well and Live More: Creating a Healthy Relationships with Technology during COVID 19 and Beyond
Register for July 21
Maree Hampton and KK Myers
Maree Hampton, Med
KK Myers, Med
Co-Founders of Live More Screen Less

We have all been called upon to use technology more than ever as many of us work and learn from home. While technology offers amazing ways to communicate, learn, and work, many of us are feeling the effects of screen overuse. Our physical, mental, social, and emotional wellbeing are impacted by the increased time on screens.  Our productivity, coping skills, feelings of connection, and contributions to our community have been compromised and altered. We could all use some strategies to Screen Well!

Join us for a webinar with LiveMore ScreenLess to learn key daily digital wellbeing tips, tools, and practices to mitigate the harmful effects of screen overuse and to gain a more balanced and intentional relationship with technology. LiveMore will share the voices and experiences of Minnesotans-young people, college students, educators, and parents to shed light on how heavy screen use is impacting health and wellbeing. During the webinar, LiveMore experts and young people will share the impacts on mental, cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and environmental wellbeing. This critical discussion seeks to ensure that in the current COVID environment and for generations to come we all are positioned to support the digital wellbeing of our communities.

JULY 14, 2020  

Social Connectedness as the Center of Mental Well-being
Register for July 14

Kami Norland, MA, ATR, CEO Integrative Re-Sources
Mary Ann Boe Executive Director, Deva Nation, and Community Weaver

Kami Norland and Mary Ann Boe

What if the solution to some of our most critical healthcare issues could be found right here in the wisdom of lived experience from community members? Our connections with each other, the revitalization of community life, and building a culture of care is exactly how we will start to ease the suffering of our loneliness epidemic and the chronic diseases that ensue from loss and social isolation. NicBluCares, serving Nicollet and Blue Earth Counties, is piloting the global Compassionate Community movement for the USA. We are bringing primary care together with public health, multi-sector leaders, community expertise and a shared database system to connect people to services and build coalitions of support. Research tells us that social health is vital to physical, mental, and community wellbeing. Kami and Mary Ann present how a compassionate 'whole of community' movement in Southern Minnesota is creating a new culture where we belong and we take care of each other. Mankato/North Mankato will be the first Compassionate Town in America, creating a Compassionate Town Charter through conversations about belonging, equity, loss, and resiliency, harvesting the wisdom of lived experiences, and mobilizing best practices to policies.


The Children & Nature Network: Using A Policy and Systems Approach to Well-being and Community ResilienceSarah Mulligan-Toffler

Sarah Mulligan-Toffler, Children & Nature Network, Executive Director

The Children & Nature Network is leading an international movement to connect children to nature to secure a healthy future for our children and the planet. An increasing body of research shows that regular connection nature is critical to children’s healthy development and supports overall health and wellbeing throughout the life-span. Nature-based activities can improve attention, reduce stress, increase physical activity, and promote social connectedness among other benefits. The Children & Nature Network is currently working in 21 cities and towns across the U.S., including both Minneapolis and St. Paul, to incorporate nature into city priorities, planning and policymaking. We are helping city leadership understand how the natural resources that exist in every community can be better integrated across a range of areas, including community health and wellness, education, out-of-school time programming, job creation, transportation, and climate resilience to support better outcomes for youth and families. For example, in St. Paul, we are supporting Nature-Smart Libraries as a strategy to use libraries as a jumping off point to connect families to parks and natural areas across the region. Learn about how your community can utilize the Children & Nature Network and implement a range of nature based strategies to promote mental wellbeing and community resilience.


Combating Isolation: Group Work with AdolescentsMolly Heisenfelt Eller

Molly Heisenfelt Eller, MSW/LICSW, High School Social Worker, Psychotherapist, Consultant

Studies have found that our nation’s young people are one of the loneliest generations of Americans, more disconnected and isolated than other generations. Youth are growing up in a world in which technology and social media have given a false sense of connectedness. This loneliness leads to increased risk of suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues in addition to physical health issues.  In order to combat isolation, teenagers need a venue in which they can be seen, heard, validated and understood. 

Group work is one of the best ways to help adolescents know that they are not alone in the issues they face. Research has shown that individuals who are less lonely are more likely to have in-person interactions and are more healthy and balanced.  Group work can be hosted in schools as well in other community settings such as churches, community centers, and libraries.  The webinar will include: defining group work, various implementation tips and practical examples, guidance regarding important tools for group work with teenagers.  Former group participants will join the presenter to provide participants the opportunity to conceptualize key points while hearing panelists share their observations and experiences. 

2019 Learning Sessions

No Learning Community Center

Cultivating Social Connection in Rural Communities

Carrie Henning-Smith, PhD, MPH, MSW, Assistant Professor, Health Policy and  Management, School of Public Health Minnesota, Deputy Director, University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
Meg Moynihan, MS, Senior Advisor, Minnesota Department of Agriculture Dairy Farmer

Doris Mold, Past Present American Agri-Woman (AAW), President Sunrise Agricultural Associates, LLC

Carrie Henning-Smith, Meg Moynihan, Doris Mold

Along with the growing concerns about mental health in rural communities, there is increasing attention to social isolation and loneliness.  Learn about the research on social isolation and health, including why this is an urgent and important public health matter and what makes social isolation unique in a rural context.    Hear about two rural Minnesota efforts:

  • TransFARMation - a radio and podcast series created by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) in partnership with the Red River Farm Radio Network, which reaches agricultural listeners in 20 markets in northwest Minnesota, and the Dakotas. The series is designed to help farmers hear stories of people like themselves and realize that they are not alone in their struggles. It features local farmers talking about how they have coped with adversity.  The first six shows have been heard more than 30,000 times. This is part of MDA efforts to reduce stress in farming and agriculture since 2016. 
  • Cultivating Resilience in Women - a growing and evolving virtual community that currently includes: online sessions and webinars about resilience and social connections; opportunities for community input; weekly virtual coffee chats that provide an opportunity for people in agriculture to share stories and talk about stress, and resilience practices. 
Learn how you can apply models and tools, which are deeply grounded in the agricultural community patterns and practices.

Healing Illuminated: Promoting Self-Care in our Families, Schools, and Communities
Rebeka Ndosi

Rebeka Ndosi, Healing Justice Coach & Consultant, Health Practitioner, Yoga & Meditation Teacher, Speaker, Film Producer

Learning and practicing self-care must happen in community and be reinforced in community. Providing parents, teachers and other caregivers tools to self-regulate are a critical part of a trauma informed organization and community. Healing Illuminated provides adults with these tools to heal as well as specific tools and skills to share those gifts with the young people in their lives. Healing Illuminated provides breathing, yoga, mindfulness and other tools to adults from schools, organizations and communities across the Greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area, and nationwide, and is finding ways to help build them into school systems. One example is a training they offered through a cohort of adult educators, youth workers, parents and caregivers who work with students who are labeled as having Educational Behavioral Disorder. Along with practicing mind-body tools for addressing their own stress and trauma, participants engaged in learning about the history of the EBD Special Education category and ways to incorporate simple tools into their lives, their homes, classrooms, offices and organizations in order to create a space of wholeness for themselves and the youth in their lives. Learn about how this work has evolved and been implemented in multiple kinds of spaces. For more information visit,

group of children working in a gardenHealthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners: Building a Trauma-sensitive learning environment in an urban elementary school

Judy Myers, MS, RN (former U of MN Extension Educator, Children, Youth, and Family Consortium)

A five-year partnership between the UMN Extension Center for Youth and Family Consortium (CYFC) and Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul helped to demonstrate a trauma-sensitive learning environment that benefits students, parents, and school personnel. This model emerged from a conversation with an elementary school principal who had recently learned about the health risks related to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Partnership actions included: a calming room, school garden, and a quieter school dining room. Students and parents reported enthusiasm for the changes and began identifying the school as one of "choice." Learn more about how you could implement these innovations in you schools.

group of youth of colorIrreducible Grace Foundation: A healing journey through education and arts.

Dr. Darlene Fry
Jan Mandell

Irreducible Grace Foundation (IGF) is a multifaceted approach to bring healing to youth and organizations. Since 2012, IGF has supported historically underserved youth, especially those from foster care, to:

  • Learn about trauma, resilience and healing practices from national experts;
  • Heal- creating space to build relationships, practice self-care, and express themselves through poetry, plays, puppetry, and other creative expression; and
  • Lead- facilitating opportunities for youth to design and lead wellbeing workshops about trauma and healing practices with organizations that sponsor a workshop. Youth also designed and lead the "Handcuffs to Handshakes", a program to build positive relationships between police and community.

Youth, primarily youth of color, deliver over 50 healing workshops and performances annually to over 6,000 people in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth organizations. Hear about the experiences and philosophy from this innovative program model. Learn how you can access these resources and/or develop similar opportunities in your community.

JULY 2019
The July session was CANCELLED.

JUNE 2019
Addressing Outstanding Warrants: Reducing Stress on Systems and Families

Katrina Mosser

Katrina Mosser, Integrated Health and Justice Administrator, Ramsey County

According to the CDC approximately 9% of people who died by suicide had some involvement in the criminal justice system. Outstanding warrants and connections to the justice system can add stress to individuals and families, and prompt other social risk factors such as loss of housing and employment.

Since 2015 Ramsey County has hosted three Warrant Resolution Day events to help people resolve outstanding warrants for misdemeanors without fear of getting arrested. The event has grown each year, from 50 people in the first year to over 700 people in the most recent May 2019 event. Learn about how this came to be, the system benefits and lessons learned. Hear about MDH data collected on stress and the impact on mental health as reported by participants in the 2019 Warrant Day.

MAY 2019
SLEEP: Clinic and college based strategies to improve sleep

Janet Lewis-Muth, Kalsey Stults

Janet Lewis-Muth, MPH, Director of Health Promotion, Carleton College
Kalsey Stults, Community Health and Wellness Specialist, Crow Wing Energized
Beatrice Comty-Charnock, MA, LMFT, LACD, Crow Wing Energized, Mental Fitness Goal Group

Sleep is an essential ingredient for mental well-being. The CDC reports that 30 percent, or 40.6 million, U.S. adults are not getting enough sleep. Insufficient sleep is linked to depression and memory problems, as well as other medical conditions. Two Minnesota organizations are tackling this problem to promote mental well-being. Crow Wing Energized (CWE), Mental Fitness Group developed A Guide to Healthy Sleep to educate people about why sleep is so important and how to get better sleep for every age group. CWE develop this guide in clinics, hospitals and schools across the county, and they have shared the tool online for anyone to utilize. Carleton College created Sleep Coaches, a peer-to-peer strategy to promote healthy sleep patterns. Students are also getting tools to help them sleep better - such as light boxes and ear plugs. In the design and implementation process, Carleton leaders learned about cultural perspectives regarding sleep that perpetuate insufficient sleep; they have begun to address these deeper factors that influence many students’ sleep behaviors. Join this discussion to learn about how you could implement these innovate strategies to promote sleep in your community or organization. Visit Sleep for more information.

APRIL 2019
Larain Mickelson and Sharon Hendricks Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP): An evidence-based model for prevention and wellness

Jode Freyholtz-London, Wellness in the Woods, Executive Director
Angela Watts, Hennepin County Public Health, Family Health Area Manager

The Wellness Recovery Action Plan® or WRAP® is a prevention and wellness process that anyone can use to get well, and stay well. The model was developed in 1997 by a group of people who were searching for ways to overcome their own mental health and life challenges in order to improve their overall quality of life. Today, WRAP is an evidenced-based intervention that has been used all over the world to address physical, mental health, and life issues. WRAP is an individualized and practical plan to manage daily stress.

WRAP is being implemented with various populations in Minnesota- including families, incarcerated individuals, and other community members. Minneapolis Healthy Start program, in Maternal Child Health, applied WRAP in unique ways with families they serve. Wellness in the Woods, a non-profit and advocacy organization focused on peer support and peer recovery work, has trained dozens of WRAP facilitators in counties across Minnesota. Learn about how you could use this evidence based model as a community-driven public health tool in your community or organization.

MARCH 2019
Larain Mickelson and Sharon Hendricks Restorative Practices: Healing Youth, Family and Community

Laraine Mickelson, Mickelson Consulting, LLC
Sharon Hendricks, Yellow Medicine Restorative Justice

Restorative programs and practices can take place in schools, communities, justice systems, and workplaces. Collectively restorative practice is a way of doing business that can have significant impact on children, families, crime victims, offenders, workplace teams and community well-being. The essence of restorative philosophy is about repairing relationships, creating community and empowerment. "When we focus our restorative work within the justice system the process involves, to the extent possible, those who have a stake in an offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things right as possible." -Howard Zehr. Restorative justice is one antidote to trauma. Evidence shows that restorative practices can reduce out of home placement costs, reduced crime, and build strengths of families and community. When we utilize restorative philosophy in schools, workplaces, and communities we seek to enhance and strengthen relationships and reduce tensions due to conflict.

In Minnesota all counties have the opportunity to invite first time juvenile offenders to a restorative justice program if one is available. Southwest Minnesota has a robust network of county based restorative justice programs. There are also many school based programs, such as the Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program in Cloquet, MN a restorative school that focuses on the goal of relationship building with students, staff, and parents. Learn about the role of restorative philosophy in promoting mental well-being and resilience, and strategies to strengthen this work in Minnesota.

Mark Skeie The Vital Aging Network: Empowering Seniors and Building Community Capacity

Mark Skeie, Executive Director

The Vital Aging Network promotes self-determination, civic engagement and personal growth for people as they age through education, leadership development and opportunities to connect. One of the initiatives is the Wellness 50+ program, a grassroots effort in Washington County led by community members to improve health and well-being, including mental health, for themselves and others in their communities. Strategies have included: assisting with social isolation, developing dementia friendly communities, helping individuals deal with anxiety and stress, promoting physical activities, healthy eating, healthy thinking and feeling, and prevention, healing, coping. Wellness 50+ cohorts have also been piloted in other communities, including North Minneapolis. Wellness 50+ are self-directed team are currently active in five communities across Washington County; Forest Lake, Stillwater, Woodbury, Cottage Grove, and Oakdale. Each team co-creates measurable goals and objectives for older adults (50+), and is focused on developing their civic organizing and project management skills to achieve those specific wellness goals. Other Vital Aging Network strategies and programs including Aging with Gusto, and Evolve re-igniting self and community.

nancy obrien and linda saggau Mental Health and Wellbeing: A Framework for Promotion With a Role for Everyone

Cari Michaels, MPH, Extension Educator U of M Extension Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC)
Anna Lynn, MPP, Mental Health Promotion Coordinator, MDH

Join this conversation to learn more about what mental well-being looks like, absent of illness, the data on mental well-being are among U.S. adults and Minnesota youth, and a framework for action. Get tools (videos, data, framework, and discussion questions) to help expand understanding within your organization and community in order to bring more people to the table and build support for prevention and mental health promotion initiatives.

Everyone has a role to play in creating mental well-being and resilience, and it will take everyone in your community and organization. Discuss what those roles could look like and help identify what tools are still needed to deepen the conversation. Also hear more about the Mental Wellbeing and Resilience Learning Community updates and announcements for 2019.


Previous Learning Community Topics (PDF)

Updated Monday, 20-Jul-2020 12:13:55 CDT