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Mental Health Awareness Month: Q&A with ARMHS Director Stephen Taylor

Accra Talks Mental Health Awareness

As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Accra’s Stephen Taylor answered questions about mental health and shared key mental wellness resources for Minnesotans. Taylor is a licensed psychologist with more than 35 years of experience and now serves as ARMHS (Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services) Director and Clinical Supervisor at Accra. Read on to learn more.

What is Mental Health Awareness Month?

Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives. It takes place each May to educate about the trauma and impact of living with mental or behavioral health issues; to share mental health resources and tools; and to reduce the stigma experienced by those affected by mental illness.

It is important for all of us to understand the prevalence of mental illness and be willing to talk about it. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, and 1 in 20 adults experience serious mental illness each year. However, only 44.8% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2019. To close that gap in care and help more people get the necessary support for mental health issues, it is imperative that we spread awareness and spark more conversations about mental well-being.

What makes mental health awareness particularly relevant this year?

Mental health awareness has become even more important due to the COVID-19 crisis. Everyone has been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another. While physical distancing has protected Minnesotans and people around the world from the coronavirus, the isolation of remaining at home has presented new mental health challenges. People have adjusted to new work environments, home routines and childcare schedules, and we have been forced to constantly adapt to day-to-day uncertainties.

All of these new stressors and forms of uncertainty have wreaked havoc on the mental well-being of many Americans. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 30% of Minnesotans reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder last October, and more than 20% of Minnesotans reporting these symptoms had an unmet need for counseling for therapy. The sharp rise in the prevalence of mental health disorders over the past year has exacerbated the need for expanding mental health services and prioritizing mental well-being in our communities.

What resources are available to Minnesotans to help maintain mental wellness?

Accra has a compiled a long list of mental health resources, many of which pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic, on this Mental Health Resources webpage. On that page, you can find general tips and resources for supporting mental well-being during COVID-19, as well as tips and resources that are specific to parents, children and seniors. The page also includes ideas for recreation, activities, and ways to change your personal environment to support your mental well-being.

Here are links to some more valuable resources:

Who can I talk to about my mental health and where can I get support?

When connecting with those close to you, remember, it is OK to talk about how you are feeling. In fact, we should talk about our feelings. Especially during this pandemic, it is OK to “not be OK.” Reach out to a friend, family, neighbor, warm line, or crisis line if you want to talk. No concern is too small.

  • Minnesota WarmLine Peer Support Connection: call or text 844-739-6369 (5 p.m. to 9 a.m.)
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
  • Crisis Text Line: Text “MN” to 741741
  • National Parent Helpline: 855-427-2736

How has the pandemic affected mental health supports?

Due to the pandemic and need for physical distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19, the state and federal government have given mental health counseling providers permission to do telephone counseling. That has helped us reach a lot of clients who we normally could not support. For people who live in remote locations or who cannot get around as easily anymore, accessing mental health counseling providers in person can be difficult. The expansion of telehealth services and ability to consult with clients via phone have enabled more people to find support this year, and we hope those options will remain available so we can continue to serve people where they would most like to receive support.

What mental health services does Accra provide?

Accra provides mental health counseling and adult rehabilitative mental health services (ARMHS) to residents of St. Louis County. ARMHS services help clients manage the symptoms of mental illness, develop independent living skills and lead a more fulfilling life at home. Supervised by mental health professionals, ARMHS practitioners teach clients how to connect with and leverage community resources and mental health services.

Through ARMHS services, clients receive assistance with psychiatric stability; personal and emotional adjustment; relapse prevention; interpersonal communication; household management and parenting skills. ARMHS services also assist with employment-related transitions and medication education.

For more information about ARMHS or to set up services, please call 218-270-5288 or 866-935-3515 and ask to speak with our ARMHS services department. Or you can email us at