Spring 2019 Newsletter

Spring 2019 Newsletter

May 19, 2019


Table of Contents

Chilkoot Youth Summer Bike Program Fundraiser

Faces of FamilyMeans

FamilyMeans Teens Present Cultural Awareness Night

Caregiving & Aging Team Presented with Community Acheivement Award

Financial Solutions Welcomes New Counselor in Rochester

Parents: How to Support Mental Health in Teens

Grief on Mother’s Day

We Need You! Support School-Based Mental Health


 Chilikoot Kids

Chilkoot Youth Summer Bike Program Fundraiser

On Sunday, May 19, Chilkoot Café and Cyclery hosted friends of FamilyMeans to an evening of good food, music, and dancing in support of the youth summer bike programs in the communities of Cimarron and Landfall.  We heard from five participants on what they have learned from the program, and how they are now more experienced and confident riders.

Funds raised support youth as they cycle to places they have never been before, learn and practice bike maintenance, and much more! Thank you for helping to keep wheels turning on this essential program and sparking a passion for cycling in our youth!

learn more about our summer bike program

donate funds or biking equipment


Faces of FamilyMeans

In 2018, over 16,000 clients, 271 volunteers, hundreds of donors, 57 staff, 13 Board Members, and countless others connected with FamilyMeans to get or give help through life’s challenges. Each of these unique individuals has a story to tell about their connection with FamilyMeans. These stories are inspiring, hope filled, and sometimes a bit humorous. We have been sharing a story on our social media pages each week in an initiative called Faces of FamilyMeans. We hope that through these stories the community will understand a bit more about FamilyMeans services, volunteer opportunities, and more.

Here are a few recent #FacesofFamilyMeans posts:

Anne Mickelson

Anne Mickelson, Caregiving & Aging Client

"I am an only child, and it has always been just me and my mom. When she started showing signs of memory loss I was in denial - no one wants to hear that their loved one has dementia. I did all that I could to help her remain in independent living, but it was not sustainable, I was getting worn out. FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging helped me to learn how to take care of myself, find support and

Lauren Cummins

Lauren Cummins, LICSW, Therapist

"I enjoy being a therapist because my clients give me hope. Oftentimes, the world can seem like a bleak and dreary place, but I get to interact with people every single day who, despite facing real pain and struggle, are able to unlock peace, hope, and joy within themselves. Many of my clients are able to take this personal growth and healing and turn it into advocacy, working to pay it forward and improve the world for others. It’s an honor to be a part of that journey; I have so much respect and admiration for the people I get to work with.”

Peg Bear

Peg Bear, Day Out! Volunteer

"I volunteer with the FamilyMeans Day Out! program, which is a safe space for care receivers to participate in fun activities while their caregiver has some time for themselves. I have found that FamilyMeans is a good place with caring people willing to help volunteers and clients. Volunteering makes me feel good, especially knowing how I helped someone directly. Each month we have a volunteer training where we talk about topics such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, policies and procedures, and more. These sessions allow us to learn more about those who we work with and ask questions to staff members. It is such a great support and very informative. Come and give volunteering a try! Once you get involved, you really enjoy it!"

Are you interested in sharing your story? Contact Melena at mnelson@familymeans.org today! Your story could provide hope and guidance to someone going through the same challenges.

Read more #FacesofFamilyMeans stories by following us on social media!

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FamilyMeans Teens Host Cultural Awareness Night

FamilyMeans Teens Host Cultural Awareness Night

FamilyMeans Teens Host Cultural Awareness Night





On Saturday, May 11, teen participants of the FamilyMeans Youth Development Program hosted a Cultural Awareness Night at Stillwater Area High School. The free event aimed to bring together people of all ages and backgrounds for an evening of cultural exploration and understanding.

The youth behind this project are from Cimarron, an inclusive community that has a majority population of people of color; most who identify as Latinx. In School District 834, Latinx students make up less than 10% of the student body but are 34% of the students in Cimarron. These students feel there is growing need for diversity awareness in the community. The Cultural Awareness Night provided an opportunity for the Stillwater Community to celebrate and learn about different cultures, and by providing a platform for intersectional Americans to share openly these teens felt accepted, appreciated, and heard.

FamilyMeans Teens Host Cultural Awareness NightParticipants shared their cultural identity by showcasing their nationalities and ethnicities such as: Hmong, Vietnamese, Korean, Mexican, Salvadorian, Ethiopian, Somali, and more. Performers wowed the crowd with a fashion show, dance presentations, spoken word and poetry. Afterwards, attendees shared community meal of ethnic foods from Afro Deli, La Maria Taqueria, and Lisu’s Thai Taste. The teens hope to use this event as a springboard to larger conversations in the Stillwater area about cultural diversity.

This project was made possible through grant funding from the Stillwater Area Community Foundation.

Caregiving & Aging Team Presented with Community Achievement Award 

FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging staff members are part of the Stillwater Area ACT of Alzheimer’s Action Team. This is a collaborative group of individual community members, non-profit service providers, health care professionals, as well as representatives from faith communities, senior residential settings, local government, and businesses. This group, formed in 2014 with the leadership from FamilyMeans staff, aims to create a dementia friendly community that supports those living with memory loss and their caregivers.

In April, the Stillwater Area ACT on Alzheimer’s team was presented with a Community Achievement Award from Washington County Public Health. This award is given to honor residents who devote their time, energy, and talents to improve the public health of individuals, families, and communities in Washington County.

Caregiving & Aging Team Presented with ACT on Alzheimer’s AwardCongrats to FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging staff (pictured left to right) Sarah Adams, Jenny West, Beth Wiggins, and Sarah Gavin. Thank you for helping Washington County and beyond become dementia friendly!

Learn more about Stillwater Act on Alzheimer’s dementia friendly initiatives.

Visit FamilyMeans Caregiving & Aging for information on memory loss support groups, caregiver coaching, and other services that may support you in your caregiving journey.

Financial Solutions Welcomes New Counselor in Rochester

Bob Hebert Bob Hebert of Lake City, MN began his career with FamilyMeans early this year. His extensive finance background and adventurous attitude makes for a great addition to the team! Positioned in Rochester, Bob will have the opportunity to support our Southern MN clients as they find financial freedom! Bob says "I am really excited to

Bob’s Bio

Parents: How to Support Mental Health in Teens
By Brynn Stember, LICSW FamilyMeans Therapist

This spring, I went to a local school to present on the prevalence and treatment of anxiety and depression in children and adolescents. I presented the same information to two separate groups for an estimated 80 parents/staff! It was gratifying and fulfilling to see parents interested, curious, and committed to learning more about mental health and how to support their kids!

Some on-line resources that I offered included:

22 Things People with Mental Illness Wish Their Parents Knew
Parent Resources from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
General resources, education, and information about Mental Illness from NAMI

While there are many excellent books I could recommend, here are two that stand out, and that I recommended to parents/teachers in the presentations.

The Chemistry of Joy” and “The Chemistry of Calm” by Dr. Henry Emmons.

The Chemistry of Joy” and “The Chemistry of Calm” by Dr. Henry Emmons

Questions always add to a presentation, and bring energy to the whole experience for both attendees and presenter alike. I handed out an anonymous question box for parents to write down questions and place in a box, which were answered at the end of the presentation. There was a good response to this! While each of these questions deserve an entire presentation in and by themselves, here are some of the topics that were discussed:

Prevention of Mental Health Concerns – During the presentation, I encouraged self-care (eating, sleep, exercise, participating in hobbies of enjoyment) and healthy attachment in young children and teens.

The interaction between anxiety/depression and social media - Initial thoughts include that social media can create a lot of disappointment and anxiety when, for example, kids see friends hanging out and were not invited to an event. Due to the emphasis that teens tend to put on their friendships, social anxiety tends to be more common among teens than in younger children (however social anxiety still can occur in younger children).Again, the topic of social media and metal health is an entire presentation in and by itself. It is a topic in popular demand as shown through 3 separate anonymous questions related to the topic of social media and mental health.

How to help teens/kids with public speaking anxiety - What a common fear this is—for students and adults alike! I discussed that cognitive behavioral therapy can be helpful with this and is commonly used by therapists when treating this fear. An additional tip for parents includes perspective taking (i.e. a 10 min presentation in comparison to all the years of life one lives). In addition, positive thinking/positive self-talk can aid in decreasing anxiety related to public speaking.

How to support teens that spend too much time in their room/Teens that talk to their parents very little - Again, this is a common behavior for teens! I encouraged parents to consider and inquire with their teens how they are spending their time in their room. In addition, encourage or set specific family time aside. As far as getting teens to talk, ask specific questions, tell them you care, and encourage them to talk when they are ready or simply spend time with children and teens, even if it is in silence!

Prevalence of separation anxiety among kids that have one parent, are the youngest or who have older parents - I discussed that any one of these mentioned factors does not necessarily result in a child experiencing more or less anxiety or mental health concerns. Rather, supportive and present guardians and individuals in a child’s life who can discuss the transition helps to decrease anxiety/depression immensely. Another resource includes a group called Children in Transition, which is led by FamilyMeans School -Based clinicians who support kids in transitioning through their parent’s divorce.

Another interesting fact regarding separation anxiety: anxiety tends to be more common among younger kids and social anxiety tends to be more common among teens.

How to know the difference between anxiety and depression and a “moody teen.” In addition, how to make sure one’s kids doesn’t “slip through the cracks [in the mental health system]?” - In response to this question, I reviewed the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for depression and anxiety (while reminding parents that they do not have to do the diagnosing, leave that up to therapists!). Additionally, I emphasized the key factors that therapists look for to determine if anxiety/depression is a concern is if their teen’s mood is affecting their daily ability to function or if they are sad and depressed more often than they are not. I reminded parents that to some extent, people all feel ups and downs, stress and calm. We do not want to over-diagnose and we certainly do not want kids to “fall through the cracks.” In an effort to avoid this, ultimately I encourage communication with your teen, as well as referring them to a mental health professional for an intake assessment if you are concerned or have questions. Specific questions can’t be answered in this article or in a presentation. However, I do hope that it is initial “food for thought.” FamilyMeans, as well as other mental health resources are available for you, your child or teen, and your family. There are also county and state resources that can help you in situations of emergency.

For more information about supporting your teen’s mental health or to set-up an intake assessment with a FamilyMeans Therapist, visit FamilyMeans.org or call 651-439-4840.

Grief on Mother’s Day

Mother Day Qoute

Mother’s Day was a few weeks ago, and though it was a beautiful sunshiny day, many people were filled with grief and sorrow. For women who have lost a child, experience infertility, or those with mothers who have died, this holiday can be painful. When experiencing grief, many holidays that were once joy filled can be sad and isolating. It can be difficult to know how to proceed for those in these situations, or those who are watching a loved one work through this grief. FamilyMeans Center for Grief & Loss has provided the following strategies to help through grief surrounding, not just Mother’s Day, but anytime.

For Women Whose Children Have Died

A mother is always a mother, even if her child has died. The simplest, and most effective, way of supporting her during this time is to acknowledge her motherhood as well as her pain. Plan a visit to her child’s grave, bring flowers or a small gift. Talk about her child, share memories, and look at photos. Don’t be afraid to say the child’s name. Many think that this may “open the wound” and make grief worse. In fact, many bereaved parents like to hear people speak the name of their lost child.

Some of these gestures are not realistic for someone who has lost a child due to miscarriage. Simply acknowledging this loss and asking/doing some self-reflection on how this holiday makes her feel, letting her know that you are there to support her is meaningful enough.

For Women Struggling With Infertility

Women that are struggling with infertility often are silently working through their grief. Usually, only spouses and close family/friends are aware of these challenges. This usually leads to isolation. A phone call to see how she is doing can be a huge support. Acknowledging her pain during this time can mean more than anything else.

For Anyone Whose Mother Has Died

For anyone that has lost their Mother, Mother’s Day can bring back lots of emotions, pain, and sadness. Some of the best ways to remember a deceased mother include talking about favorite memories, enjoying an activity that you used to do together, lighting a candle in her honor, or listening to music she loved.

Worried about saying “the wrong thing” when talking to a spouse, family member, or friend? This tip sheet (link to sheet) has a list of unhelp comments and their more helpful alternative. Molly Ruggles, PsyD, LP, FamilyMeans Center for Grief & Loss Clinical Supervisor says, “The most critical way of supporting a grieving person is being present. Sometimes this means listening, sometimes it means sharing a memory, other times it can be just sitting with a person in their grief”.

It is important for all those grieving to acknowledge the pain you are feeling because of your loss. Then work towards remembering and creating traditions that honor your lost loved one. Don’t forget to practice good self-care during this difficult time as well. Some simple self-care activities include going for a walk, self-reflection through journaling or art, pampering yourself with a bubble bath, massage, or pedicure, or taking a nap.

For those working through the grief associated with the loss of a loved one, holidays can be painful, but if you use the strategies above, you will be one-step closer to healing. For more information, visit FamilyMeans.org to learn about FamilyMeans Center for Grief & Loss, counseling and therapy specialized for those healing from a loss.


We Need You! Support School-Based Mental Health

A US Surgeon General report indicates that 1 in 5 youth will face a mental health condition during their school years. These conditions include depression, eating disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia, and others. Students suffering from these conditions face significant learning barriers, causing poor grades and oftentimes the inability to graduate. This adds stress and family pressures on top of the preexisting mental health conditions.

Additionally, close to 1 in 5 high school students have contemplated suicide, and a staggering 2-6% have attempted suicide. These numbers prove that there is a great need for mental health counseling in youth ages 5-18.

Did you know that FamilyMeans staffs school-based counselors in almost 30 schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin combined?

Stillwater (SD 834)
St. Croix Area Learning Center
Stillwater Area High School
Lily Lake Elementary
Stillwater Middle School
Oak-Land Middle School
Lake Elmo

Mahtomedi (SD 832)
Mahtomedi High School

North St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale (SD 622)
Tartan High School
Richardson Elementary
Weaver Elementary
Castle Elementary

Hudson High School
Hudson Middle School
EP Rock Elementary
Willow River Elementary
North Hudson Elementary 

New Richmond
New Richmond High School
New Richmond Middle School
Hillside Elementary
Paperjack Elementary
Starr Elementary

Prescott High School
Prescott Middle School
Malone Elementary 

We have been providing these services for over 30 years. In 2018 alone, we provided over 5,000 counseling session to youth ages 5-18. However, did you know that the majority of the funding needed to provide these counselors/sessions comes from independent donors and private foundation grants?

This means that we need your support so that we can keep counselors in schools to support youth through the challenges that come with growing up - suicidal thoughts, complicated friendships, depression, anxiety, stress, and more.

There are many ways to support FamilyMeans School-Based Mental Health:

1. Make a donation
click here to make a donation

2. Support our Stillwater Area High School Wellness Center Challenge Match
Learn More

3. Spread the word about FamilyMeans School-Based Mental Health Counseling
Learn More

4. Request a parent/teacher education workshop
Learn More

FamilyMeans Counseling & Therapy offers therapy services in schools as well as three outpatient clinics in Stillwater, St. Paul, and Hudson. You are not alone. Contact us today at 651-439-4840 to learn more and schedule an appointment.


Resource: https://www.nassp.org/policy-advocacy-center/nassp-position-statements/promoting-mental-health-in-middle-level-and-high-schools/

FamilyMeans Board of Directors 2019-2020

Elizabeth McGinley, Chair | Brian Gunderson, Vice-Chair | Cary Stewart, Treasurer
Johan Nielsen, Past Chair | Charles Bransford, MD | Heidi Hubbard, MN
Bob McDowell, EdD | Jessica Meletiou | Lynn Ogburn 
Linda Skoglund | Susannah Torseth | Josh Zignego | Arba-Della Beck, President

Contact Melena at mnelson@familymeans.org or 651-789-4029 if you would like to be added to our electronic newsletters mailing list.