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. Each location has a host who can access and broadcast the webinar. Webinar links are only provided to hosts. Registration link identifies locations near you.

Webinars profile 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.

Monthly Registration:

Learning Community Resources:

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.

2018 Learning Sessions

No meeting.

nancy obrien and linda saggau Giving Voice to Well-Being: Building Choral Communities of Joy

Mary Lenard, Co-Founder & Executive Director Giving Voice Initiative
Eyleen Braaten, Director of Community Engagement Giving Voice Initiative

In 2018 the vast majority of older adults, no matter what their health status, care deeply about connection. Connection is a basic human need that is severely threatened by age and disability. The joy of singing together brings renewed purpose, learning, friendships, and connection to people living with Alzheimer's disease. The unique Giving Voice program is based on the emerging research that music is preserved in the brain not damaged by Alzheimer's. By singing together, Giving Voice changes the attitudes of care partners, family members, friends, and community members, bringing people with dementia out of the shadows through shared music making.

Giving Voice Initiative inspires and equips organizations to bring together people with Alzheimer's and their care partners to sing in choruses that foster joy, well-being, purpose and community understanding. Giving Voice Initiative believes that singing together helps people with Alzheimer's Disease and their care partners strengthen connections to their community and live better lives.

Reducing Isolation and Promoting Connection Between New Immigrants and Minnesota Women

Susan Nygaard

Erin Hart, Reconciliation Project
Shaymaa Jakjook, Women's Friendship Group Participant 

Social isolation and connectedness is a national concern; it is particularly acute among new immigrants. Minnesota community members may want to support their newer neighbors but may struggle with how and where to begin. Learn about the Women’s Friendship group, a simple and profound experience that has supported and enriched the lives of everyone involved. Hear from two participants who will share their experiences with this group and how you could start something like this in your community. This project flows from the work of the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding relationships, cultural understanding and respect between the United States and Iraq, with a focus on the arts, cultural and professional exchange, and humanitarian projects.

The Quest for Resiliency: Moving from Stressed Out to Chill

Susan Nygaard

Susan Nygaard, RN, BSN, PHN, Manager, Community Health Improvement, Allina Health (

Addressing stress and anxiety takes every tool and medium available. Change to Chill by Allina Health was created in response to an identified community need. The Change to Chill (CTC) website is free for all communities to use and is full of online resources that provide stress reduction skills, life balance techniques, mindfulness, resiliency, gratitude practice, deep breathing strategies and health education. CTC serves the greater community through work with teachers who use it in their classrooms, counselors who integrate it into their work with youth, teens who use it individually, in school and as part of social groups, and parents who are looking for ways to help their children stress less. CTC provides an easy way for teens to talk about stress and identify ways to manage it so they can thrive. Change to Chill is widely implemented in communities across Minnesota, including the launch of Change to Chill School Partnership earlier this month. Learn about ways to add these resources to your community tool-box.

Gay Straight Alliance: A Critical Community Resource for LGBTQ Mental Well-Being

Joe Rand Blaine Kelley

Joseph Rand, M.Ed, Extension Educator, Youth Development University of Minnesota Extension (he/him/his)
Blaine Kelley, Youth & Schools Coordinator OutFront Minnesota (he/him/his)

Disparities in mental well-being among LGBT youth in Minnesota are profound. LGBT youth living in rural areas have very few safe spaces for real interaction and self-identification. This makes their journey through sexual identification and "coming out" to family, friends and community more difficult.

Learn about how a partnership with youth and a local Gay Straight Alliance helped to identify, document and showcase the experiences of rural Minnesota LGBT youth using video and other creative outlets. Understand the National and State statistics to provide context for a deeper understanding about rural Minnesota LGBT youth and their involvement in a GSA (Genders and Sexualities Alliance), and consider opportunities for how your community can provide safe spaces for youth programs and schools, especially rural communities. Learn about specific resources and tools through Outfront Minnesota to help you sponsor or support your local GSA.

JULY 2018
nancy obrien and linda saggau Happiness: A Mental Health and Business Strategy

Strategic Focus: Happiness Practice

Nancy O'Brient, Co-founder Experience Happiness
Linda Saggau, Co-founder Experience Happiness

Guest Speaker: Sara Rose, Hennepin Healthcare/Hennepin County Medical Center

Research has proven that happy employees are more productive, receive higher performance ratings, enjoy more job security and are less likely to take sick days or quit. While today's innovative leaders understand the strategic importance of promoting workforce wellbeing and happiness, accomplishing this goal is more challenging than ever due to the unprecedented levels of unhealthy stress and burnout impacting the personal and professional lives of their employees every day.

Linda Saggau and Nancy O'Brien are the co-founders of Experience Happiness, an organization dedicated to helping people and organizations thrive through happiness. In this presentation they will share their happiness research insights and The Happiness Practice (THP) case study at Hennepin Healthcare that demonstrates how THP helps people reduce burnout and its negative physical, emotional and behavioral effects while increasing happiness and it's many positive byproducts, including resiliency, innovation, sustainability, and performance. For more information visit

JUNE 2018
melvin giles One Garden at a Time: Creating Healthy Environments and Community

Strategic Focus: Environment

Melvin Giles, Peacemaker and Co-coordinator for Urban Farm and Garden Alliance
Megan Phinney, Master Gardener/Land Connector and Co-coordinator for Urban Farm and Garden Alliance
Kiersti (KP) Phenow, LSW and Urban Farmer

The Urban Farm and Garden Alliance is a collaboration of eight community gardens and backyard box gardeners in the Rondo/ Frogtown Neighborhoods of St. Paul. In 2017, through a small grant from Ramsey County Public Health, the St. Paul coalition launched a pilot program, Grow Rx, in partnership with Open Cities, a local clinic. Through Grow Rx, health care providers prescribe gardening to support their patient's mental and physical health. Individuals and families with a Garden Prescription get resources to begin their gardening and healing experience; including seeds, plants, tools, and direct connections to others in the neighborhood gardening community. The Urban Farm and Garden Alliance and Grow Rx is designed to build and support community, healthy food production, green space, neighborhood safety, social connectedness, outdoor play for children, physical activity, cultural and recreational events, and mental health and well-being. Access to green space has been linked to reduced rates of mortality, depression, anxiety, PTSD and other chronic disease. Research with children and youth highlight that access to nature and green space is a natural buffer for adversity and stress, it improves attention, concentration, well-being and resiliency.

MAY 2018
sharleen zeman-sperle and stacy bender-fayette Enhancing Trauma-Sensitive and Compassionate Practices in Schools

Strategic Focus: Trauma, Skills and Policy

Sharleen Zeman-Sperle, M. Ed, SEL Specialist
Stacy Bender-Fayette, M. Ed, SEL Specialist
Peacemakers Resources

Peacemaker Resources, a nonprofit organization based in Bemidji, MN, has experienced success in helping school staff become more aware of the effects of toxic stress on the brain and offers strategies to help students become better able to learn and be successful. Two Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Specialists will share how adverse childhood experiences workshops paired with teaching and modeling SEL lessons in elementary schools across northern Minnesota has positively influenced students, teachers and schools. Learn about our successful journey to expand school-based social and emotional health initiatives from 20 classrooms (in 2016-17) to 121 classrooms (in 2017-18), and how we established new sustainable partnerships and resources across systems.

APRIL 2018
carolyn scherer Building Mentoring Relationships throughout Minnesota

Strategic Focus: Relationships

Carolyn Scherer, MSW
Director of Program Services
MENTOR Minnesota

Mentoring, at its core, guarantees that young people have someone who cares about them, assures that they are not alone in dealing with daily challenges, and makes them feel like they matter. Research confirms that quality-mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations. Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity. Yet, one in three young people grow up without this critical asset. To close this gap, it will take everyone from parents, students and teachers to counselors, coaches and family friends — anyone who has a touch point in a young person's life.

MENTOR Minnesota serves a network of over 200 youth mentoring programs in Minnesota through its mission to build and elevate the capacity of programs, systems and policies to strengthen youth mentoring relationships. Since 2010, MENTOR Minnesota has conducted the Quality Mentoring Assessment Path (now known as the National Quality Mentoring System) to assess program quality with 145 programs across the state. During this session, we will provide an overview of why mentoring matters, discuss the various forms that mentoring takes, highlight unique mentoring approaches in Minnesota, and offer suggestions on how you can help expand the mentoring movement in your local community.

MARCH 2018
Building Community Coalitions for Resilience

Strategic Focus: Community Capacity
collaborating puzzle pieces


  • Pam Beckering MS, LPCC Adverse Childhood Experiences Coordinator; Centra Care Health
  • Roger Green Chair of the Woodbury Thrives Leadership Team
  • Mary Sue Hansen, Suburban Ramsey Family Service Collaborative Coordinator
  • Julie Hatch, Olmstead County SHIP Coordinator

Community capacity is the ability to solve collective problems through the interaction of individuals and organizations in a community. Building community capacity requires a broad set of partners to communicate, collaborative, advocate, collect and use data, and implement strategies that are effective for the community. Ultimate community goals may include implementation of programs, shifts in organizational practice, and implementation of new state or local policies. However, getting to collective action—the progress along the way towards change—is also critical, including tangible and intangible elements such as creating: a common language, common agenda, common measures, mutually reinforcing activities, and changes in perception.

Learn from four communities in various phases of community capacity building about their strategies and practices. Learn about how the coalition started, is sustained, key models or practices, engaging citizens, funding mechanisms, engaging across sectors, and their greatest achievements.

Creating Family Friendly Jail Visitation Spaces

Strategic Focus: Trauma and Policy
rebecca shlafer

Rebecca J. Shlafer, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota

On any given day, it is estimated that more than 16,000 Minnesota children have a parent in prison; thousands more have a parent incarcerated in a local jail. Parental incarceration is a powerful adverse childhood experience; recent evidence suggests that 1 in 6 Minnesota youth reports a history of parental incarceration. Parent incarceration dramatically increases risks of poor school attendance, school discipline problems, lower grades, school disconnection, substance use, and mental health problems. Supporting the parent-child relationship is a key strategy for fostering resilience in children affected by incarceration.

Over the last several years, the Washington County Jail and the Minnesota Correctional Facility Shakopee, have partnered with Dr. Rebecca Shlafer, from University of Minnesota's Department of Pediatrics, to improve child visiting practices and environments. These partnerships resulted in both immediate zero-cost changes and identification of necessary long-term policy changes, such as child-preferred visiting hours at the Washington County Jail. Changes are designed to strengthen and maintain the parent-child relationship, which is critical for healthy child development.

Building Capacity in 2018
diverse community

As a leader in your community or organization, please join us for an important discussion to move the Mental Well-Being Learning Community to the next level in 2018. In 2017 we learned about 7 different initiatives happening in Minnesota to build mental well-being and resilience. Let's talk about what's next!

  • REFLECT - on lessons learned from 2017
  • LEARN - about local community actions prompted by the learning community
  • KNOW - about upcoming state and local opportunities
  • PLAN - direction and next steps for the learning community and your community.

Your contribution is important to create a more powerful Learning Community in 2018.

2017 Learning Sessions

No Meeting

From Hollering to Healing: Using Community Coaches to Address Trauma, Dr. Joi Lewis, Founder and CEO of Joi Unlimited Coaching & Consulting and the Orange Method 

Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) Process: Wellness and Strength Based on Actions, CoCo Villaluz, Consultant and Lori New Breast (Amskapikuni/Blackfeet), Consultant, American Indian Mentorship Initiative Clearway Minnesota

Red River Resilience: Expanding Community-Wide Understanding about Resilience, Ellie McCann, MS, CFLE Associate Professor, Family Resiliency Center for Family Development, University of Minnesota Extension, and Mark Ellingson, Board Certified Chaplain, Altru Health System

The Bounce Back Project - Building Individual and Institutional Resilience, Dr. Corey Martin, Former Director of Clinical Services, Buffalo Hospital

JULY 2017
St. Paul Youth Services YouthPower organizing hub, Dr. Tracine Asberry, Executive Director St. Paul Youth Services

JUNE 2017
Happy Hour: Promoting Positive Mental Well-Being, Janet Lewis Muth, MPH, Director of Health Promotion, Carlton College

MAY 2017
Living Life to the Full, A Pilot Program in the Somali Community, Dr. Rebekah Pratt, University of Minnesota Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health

For more information about past sessions please contact

Updated Wednesday, 09-Oct-2019 16:09:27 CDT