Change to Chill by Allina Health partners with Hennepin County Public Health to reach youth most impacted by COVID-19

For more information, contact: Tim Burke, 651-409-3030

MINNEAPOLIS (October 16, 2020) — Allina Health’s teen mental well-being initiative, Change to Chill (CTC), is partnering with Hennepin County Public Health to provide culturally specific mental health resources to youth most impacted by COVID-19. The partnership is supported by Hennepin County CARES Act funding to improve mental well-being and resiliency among youth throughout Hennepin County. The partnership will build from existing efforts within Change to Chill to offer more culturally responsive material to youth populations facing the greatest health disparities due to a variety of contributing factors. 

COVID-19 has caused fear, anxiety, uncertainty and stress in populations across the United States and it continues to impact the mental health and well-being of students, families and staff throughout our region. COVID-19 has also disproportionately impacted Black, Indigenous, Hispanic or Latinx and LGTBQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Genderqueer, Intersexed, Agender, Asexual and Ally community) populations, further highlighting systemic inequities and racism that exists within healthcare. These populations are already vulnerable with LGBTQIA+ youth reporting significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts than their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts along with well-documented mental health disparities among populations of color. 

Public health actions taken in response to COVID-19, such as physical distancing and virtual learning, can contribute to youth feeling more isolated and lonely, exacerbating feelings of stress and anxiety. 
 
“We’ve heard from our school partners and students across our service area about the direct impact that COVID-19, systemic oppression and discrimination have on students’ mental well-being. We need to take an honest look at the resources that are provided and adapt accordingly to make Change to Chill more accessible to audiences facing the greatest need,” said Jamie Bachaus, MPH, Allina Health’s Community Health Program Coordinator who is leading this initiative.

Because of the uncertainty that still exists with the pandemic, especially among school-age youth, it is critical to expand existing community resources like Change to Chill to meet the needs of communities experiencing the greatest health disparities. Susan Palchick, Ph.D., MPH, Hennepin County Public Health Director shares, “Hennepin County is committed to supporting our school communities impacted by the pandemic and systemic racism. The County is proud to partner with Change to Chill, which has the power to enhance positive mental well-being and build resiliency in our school communities.”

 

Through December 2020, Change to Chill will work with community representatives and mental health providers within Allina Health and from partner organizations to offer free, virtual mental well-being sessions for youth, school staff and teachers throughout Hennepin County. By translating existing tools, creating new content and holding virtual sessions with diverse audiences, Change to Chill aims to provide a healing space for students and their parents while also acknowledging the unique needs of different populations.

 

Change to Chill is currently seeking short-term contract Community Consultants and Mental Health Providers to assist with this initiative. To learn more and apply, visit www.changetochill.org/hennepincounty or email changetochill@allina.com.

About Allina Health

Allina Health is dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness and enhancing the greater health of individuals, families and communities throughout Minnesota and western Wisconsin. A not-for-profit health care system, Allina Health cares for patients from beginning to end-of-life through its 90+ clinics, 11 hospitals, 15 retail pharmacies, specialty care centers and specialty medical services, home care, home oxygen and medical equipment and emergency medical transportation services.