May 2021 Behavioral Health Monthly Newsletter

Behavioral Health Monthly

May 2021

A line of people smiling ofr the camera

A monthly wrap-up of news from the Behavioral Health Division at DHS. Subscribe to the newsletter 

This issue:

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services strives to bridge gap between people, mental health services

Minnesota Department of Human Services logo

May is Mental Health Awareness month, reminding people of the importance of caring for their mental health. However, finding appropriate mental health care can be extremely difficult for some communities, including people who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing. Many providers are not familiar with these communities' unique cultural and linguistic needs, or how those needs can impact the provision of services.

A recent article publlshed in JADRA -- by Dr. Jaime Wilson, a private practice neuropsychologist from Washington state, and Dr. John Gournaris, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division’s mental health program director, -- explores the unique health issues facing people who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing in today’s siloed approach to healthcare. It takes a person-centered approach to care that values teamwork among providers and a common goal of improving the patient’s life, defining a new term, healthcare altruism, to capture these values. You can find the full article on JADRA's website. 

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division (DHHSD) has been working to bridge this gap for Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing since 2007. A recent news story in Wisconsin compared the services available to Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing with Wisconsin’s services, highlighting the successes of DHS’s model. We currently have five mental health providers offering culturally affirmative services in American Sign Language throughout Minnesota. We also provide referrals to outside providers with fluency in American Sign Language and experience working with deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing populations.

In some cases, clients may still find it necessary or prefer to work with providers in their community or network that do not have training or experience working with deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing clients. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division offers training and resources to providers and others who work with Minnesotans who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing. By receiving training on deaf culture and the deaf community, these providers and their staff can foster better relationships with their patients and improve their patients’ health outcomes.

Animated video promotes integrating tobacco treatment with SUD, mental health programs

lungs icon

“Lungs and Minds at Work” is a short, animated video designed to help mental health and substance use disorder treatment providers feel empowered to integrate tobacco treatment into their programs.

Why is such integration important? Individuals with serious mental illness die an average of 25 years earlier than others, and tobacco use is the leading cause of death in people with mental illness. Seventy-five percent of adults with serious mental illness and/or substance use disorders want to quit smoking, but less than 40% of Minnesota’s mental health treatment facilities and 47% of SUD treatment programs offer tobacco treatment counseling. Less than one-third of these facilities offer essential treatment medications.

“Lungs and Minds at Work” and a companion discussion guide are provided by the Lung Mind Alliance, a statewide coalition of which the Minnesota Department of Human Services has been a part. The alliance is funded by the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. The alliance aims to reduce disparities related to the impact of commercial tobacco* on people with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. The alliance is working to increase the number of programs that offer tobacco treatment and have tobacco-free grounds.

The alliance also provides a treatment guide and other resources, and is working to increase reimbursement for facilities that provide tobacco treatment services through education and policy change.

*Tobacco that does not include the sacred, medicinal or traditional use by American Indians and other groups.


Register by June 4 for webinar on cultural, linguistic competence

Odyssey Conference logo

Registration is open until 4 p.m. Friday, June 4 for the upcoming webinar on implementing cultural and linguistic competence.

This installment of the 2021 Odyssey series is set for noon to 3 p.m. June 9. Speakers will include Tawara D. Goode, director, and Vivian H. Jackson, senior policy associate, from the National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University. 

Learning objectives: 

  • Define culture and describe its multiple dimensions.
  • Define cultural diversity and describe factors that influence cultural diversity among individuals and groups.
  • Describe a conceptual framework for cultural competence.
  • Define linguistic competence and related legal mandates.
  • Apply these frameworks to your roles and responsibilities in disability and aging services.
  • Cite ways cultural and linguistic competence promote racial equity.

Registration will be available on the Odyssey 2021 webinar series web page until 4 p.m. Friday, June 4.

  • There is no fee for this webinar
  • A certificate of attendance will be emailed to attendees after the webinar
  • The webinar will not be recorded

Subscribe to the Conference elist to make sure you don't miss any updates. For more information, see the conference website.

New toolkit to help providers complete needs assessment

head shot of Paul Fleissner

--Paul Fleissner, director,
DHS Behavioral Health Division

DHS is launching a new Community Certification and Needs Assessment toolkit developed by Trudy Ohnsorg at Cincinnatus for use by providers wishing to become Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. Existing CCBHCs must update their needs assessments every three years.

The toolkit incorporates Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services standards. An accompanying appendix includes the complete set of standards.

While the community certification and needs assessment is an important, mandatory key step for CCBHCs in meeting the behavioral health needs of Minnesota’s communities, the toolkit is a powerful asset for any community, county or provider.  Review the toolkit and consider how the resource could be used with your key partners and initiatives.

Questions about CCBHCs? Visit the DHS website or email

Recent behavioral health eMemos

Grant announcements

News from DHS



The Behavioral Health Monthly newsletter comes from the Behavioral Health Division at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. We welcome your feedback!

For more information about Behavioral Health Services in Minnesota, visit: children’s mental health / adult mental health / substance use disorder

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