August 9, 2022 - Youth Mental Health

August 9, 2022
At United Way partners with Goodhue County Mental Health Coalition and other health service providers to provide mental health support for all ages. This article, written by Sarah Knieff, originally ran in the July 14th edition of the Republican Eagle. We felt it was important enough to share here, in it's entirety with permission from The Republican Eagle.
Youth struggling with mental health ‘want someone to listen’
Kids want parents and other trusted adults to listen to them; That’s what Maggie Cichosz, community engagement specialist for Goodhue County Health and Human Services, and Samantha Kennedy, Fernbrook Family Center clinical director, said when asked how to help youth struggling with mental health. “We have seen a massive impact from COVID on mental health issues,” Cichosz said. “Kids are struggling, and they really just want someone to listen with an open mind, heart and [ear.]”
In Red Wing, Fernbrook has seen an increase in kids needing therapy during the last three years, resulting in a long waitlist. “We offer a multitude of targeted mental health services for families, but just like every provider in town, we have a long wait time for kids to get into our treatments,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy explained that the waitlist is mostly due to hiring issues and COVID-19 ramping up mental struggles. "With the pandemic, there has been an increase in stress and lack of routine,” she said. “You know, [kids] spent 2½ years at kind of the same level socially and emotionally since they weren’t in school being able to grow. And those same kids are now expected to act completely normal. That’s hard.”
While more and more kids need therapy, Fernbrook has been dealing with staffing struggles, much like the rest of America’s industries. “We are very picky with who we hire, we want someone who can make a difference in children’s lives, but at the same time, there are less licensed professionals in our field,” Kennedy said. “We aren’t sure exactly why, but this has hit us.”
At the county level, Cichosz said they also are experiencing increased wait times for families, but it’s only due to more patients. “I think everyone knows mental health resources are very, very limited everywhere,” she said. “But this is why we do school-linked mental health in all of the Red Wing schools.”
School-linked is a program provided through the county and places a therapist in each local school for students to access by a teacher or parent referral.
Some of those therapists come from Fernbrook. “We currently have therapists in Red Wing High School, Twin Bluff, Sunnyside and Burnside,” Kennedy said. “While waitlists are long, reaching out to school-based help is a great tool for parents. I also always say to parents to just offer empathy to their children. Kids need someone to listen to them without judgment.”
Cichosz and Kennedy agreed that parents should never ignore the warning signs that their child is struggling. “Some kids don’t want to talk to their parents about mental health and that’s OK,” Cichosz said. “This means it’s up to the parent or caregiver to begin a conversation. And remember, parents should solve the problem with the kid and not for them. Ask the child how they would like to receive help.”
According to the Goodhue County Mental Health School Resource Guide, the following are warning signs to watch out for:
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like bathing, brushing teeth, brushing hair and changing clothes.
  • Rapid mood swings, increased energy level, inability to stay still, pacing, suddenly depressed, withdrawn, suddenly happy or calm after period of depression.
  • Increased agitation, verbal threats, violent or out of control behavior.
  • Abusive behavior to self and others, including substance use or self-harm Isolation from school, work, family, friends.
  • Loses touch with reality (psychosis) – unable to recognize family or friends, confused, strange ideas, thinks they’re someone they’re not, doesn’t understand what people are saying, hears voices, sees things that aren’t there.
  • Paranoia.
“When talking with your child, be up front and honest with them,” Kennedy said. “A lot of the time, adults tend to want to sugarcoat things for kids and for those in older adolescence, this can seem like they are being talked down to.”
If the caregiver believes that the child is in a mental health crisis, they should use de-escalation techniques to keep the situation calm.
The resource guide recommends:
  • Keep your voice calm.
  • Avoid overreacting.
  • Listen.
  • Express support and concern.
  • Avoid continuous eye contact.
  • Ask how you can help.
  • Keep stimulation level low.
  • Move slowly.
  • Offer options instead of trying to take control.
  • Avoid touching the person unless you ask permission.
  • Be patient.
  • Gently announce actions before initiating them.
  • Give them space; don’t make them feel trapped.
  • Don’t make judgmental comments.
  • Don’t argue or try to reason with the person.
“It really all comes back to listening in either a crisis situation or a less serious moment,” Cichosz said. “Listen, listen, listen. At the end of the day, be there for your child and make them feel loved.”
The county offers many resources through its Child & Family Collaborative – including grants for financial help – and parents can access those at
Contact Fernbrook for more information about its services at
Crisis numbers
·       Crisis Response of Southeast Minnesota: 1-844-CRISIS2
·       Hope Coalition's Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 1-800-519-6690 
·       South East Regional Safe Harbor 24 Hour Crisis Line: (507) 289- 0636
·       Suicide Prevention Hotline (English): 1-800-273-TALK
·       Suicide Prevention Hotline (En Espanol): 1-888-628-9454 
·       Teen Crisis Line: (310) 855-4673
·       The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Crisis & Suicide Hotline): 1-866-488-7386
·       Trans Lifeline:1-877-565-8860
United Way GWP is seeking sponsors for Blue Bookshelves in
Cannon Falls, Lake City and Wabasha
We have bookshelves and books just waiting to find new homes. Your business, book club, church group or organization can ensure books get into the hands of children and provide a great volunteer experience when you choose to sponsor a Blue Bookshelf. For a one time fee of just $250, we will provide the shelf, signage, and books, books, books for children to take home.
Book shelves are to be placed in locations where children from marginalized families find themselves waiting. Coin Laundries, medical or dental offices, free clinics, etc. Sponsors supply the space and volunteer time to place the shelf and keep it filled and in good condition and United Way supplies the books.
Call our office at 651-388-6309 to become a sponsor in your community!
Resource Development Manager
Full Time/ Exempt
United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties seeks an experienced leader in resource development. Two years' work experience in resource development, grant writing or fundraising, preferably with a non-profit organization with a commitment to community or human services required. Bachelor’s degree preferred but not mandatory with acceptable experience. Competitive Salary and flexible schedule.
For More Information or a copy of full job description contact
Maureen Nelson
United Way of GWP
1755 Old West Main St.
Red Wing, MN 55066
United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties (UWGWP) is an equal opportunity employer that is committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We prohibit discrimination and harassment of any kind based on race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, age or any other protected characteristic as outlined by federal, state or local laws.
This policy applies to employment practices within our organization, including hiring, recruiting, promotion, termination, leave of absence, compensation, benefits and training. UWGWP makes hiring decisions based solely on qualifications, merit and business needs at the time
United Way Volunteer Needs
(and a few without trucks)
We need to move boxes of backpacks and school supplies
from the United Way office to the RW Elks Lodge
Saturday 8/13 from 8-9am.
Call 388-6309 or email if you can help!
Volunteers to help pack school supplies into Backpacks
Wed. Aug. 17th 5:30 - 7pm Red Wing Elks Club
Fare For All Volunteers / Tues., Aug 30th 3:45-5pm in Red Wing
5 Volunteers Needed-Great Opportunity for Youth Group or Civic Club
Call United Way office at 388-6309
if you can help!
As a parents we don't like to think about our kids having problems we can't fix, like mental health issues. But kids, especially teens are facing some very adult challenges that parent's feel ill equipped to handle: violence, pregnancy, addictions or suicide. It's important for parents to be informed about the issues their teenagers are facing. Even if your child never experiences any serious problems first-hand, they'll likely have friends and classmates who do.
Statistics indicate that in the next 24 hours in the United States:
  • 1,439 teens will attempt suicide.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34.3 
  • More teens and young adults die from suicide than from heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, pneumonia, influenza, cancer, and lung disease combined.4
  • Four out of five teens who attempt suicide give warning signs. But often, those signs are missed or ignored.5 
  • 20% of adolescents live with a mental health condition.
  • 50% of all mental illness begins by age 14 and 75% begins by age 24.
  • The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years. 
  • 70% of teens who commit crimes have a mental illness. 
  • High school students with significant symptoms of depression are more than twice as likely to drop out compared to their peers. 
  • 90% of teens who kill themselves have an underlying mental illness. 
As a parent, understanding the facts is the first step in reducing teen's risks. If you see signs of a problem, take immediate action. If you see some early warning signs of depression , talk to them as advised in the article at the top of this letter. Ignoring the problem won't make it go away.
Thanks for reading
Maureen Nelson