Change to Chill™ School Partnership expands to meet schools’ increased needs amid pandemic expands to 16 new schools

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

MINNEAPOLIS (August 25, 2020) — Allina Health's teen mental well-being program, Change to Chill (CTC), is partnering with a select group of area middle and high schools that will receive support from Allina Health to implement Change to Chill during the upcoming school year. The partnership will foster school-wide efforts towards creating and nurturing a culture of mental well-being among students and staff in both virtual and in-person settings.

First launched during the 2018-2019 school year, the CTC School Partnership provides selected schools with yearlong support from Allina Health, centered around student leadership, stress management and mental health training sessions for school staff, outreach and engagement with guardians and a $1000 grant to put toward creating a “Chill Zone” – a space created by student interns to de-stress and relax before returning to class. 

Student interns from across the Allina service area have teamed up to participate in virtual sessions over the summer months to learn and practice different coping skills, recognize early warning signs of stress and mental illness, plan a physical a virtual Chill Zone for their schools and help Allina staff develop new tools to support virtual, hybrid, and in-person learning models.  

This year, the focus of school partnership is expanding to meet the unique needs of schools in their responses to the pandemic. Change to Chill staff are working with students to create new, tailored content, and utilize its online platform to support distance learning through videos, worksheets, audio meditations and more while also supporting students and teachers to incorporate different stress management elements into classroom learning. Students are experiencing increased feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and stress throughout the summer months being physically separated from friends and not yet knowing what their class or sports schedules will look like in the upcoming year. 

Results from the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, released last October, show more Minnesota students than ever report having long-term mental health, behavioral or emotional problems. This number is up from 18 percent of students surveyed in 2016 to 23 percent in 2019. These increased reports, coupled with internal evaluation efforts, demonstrated a need to deepen partnerships with existing schools, expand Change to Chill offerings to middle schools across Minnesota and Western Wisconsin and create new content and modes of delivery to meet the changing needs of school partners. 

“We know when teens have the resources and support to stress less, they are more resilient and able to live fuller and happier lives," said Susan Nygaard, manager of Allina Health's Community Health Improvement. "Change to Chill works as a preventive measure to equip teens with tools and resources to better manage stress and anxiety." 

During the 2020-2021 school year, the Change to Chill School Partnership is expanding to include 16 new area schools. The schools selected for the 2020-2021 CTC School Partnership are: 

Buffalo Middle School
Cambridge Middle School
Faribault Area Learning Center
Faribault High School 
Forest Lake Middle School
Hastings Middle School
Hidden Oaks Middle School (Prior Lake, Minn.) 
Isanti Middle School 
Meyer Middle School (River Falls, Wis.)
Orono High School
Red Rock Central High School (Lamberton, Minn.)
Saint Francis High School
Southwest High School (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Stillwater High School
Twin Oaks Middle School (Prior Lake, Minn.)

In addition to demonstrating the need for introducing coping skills at younger ages and deepening the impact of Change to Chill, 2019 Minnesota Student Survey results also showed mental health disparities among race, ethnicity, economic status, sexual orientation and gender identity. 

“This year, we are seeing students’ enthusiasm to bring Change to Chill and other mental well-being resources to their schools to meet the unique needs of their student populations,” said Jamie Bachaus, Allina Health’s Community Health Program Coordinator, who oversees the CTC School Partnership. “We are hearing about increasing challenges of distance learning, fears of returning to school, being separated from friends, and both the positive and negative impacts of living in a digital world. We have been so impressed by the students’ commitment to creating a safe, welcoming environment for all and are excited to see what new and innovative ideas emerge with our 16 new partnership schools.”

The Change to Chill resources are free, easy to use and include ready-to-use lessons, activities, videos and digital materials. Schools and communities interested in a virtual training for their staff can submit a request form or email changetochill@allina.com with questions.

 

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.