ST. PAUL — The Ikea U.S. Community Foundation on Friday, Nov. 20, announced that it would donate $1.2 million to Minnesota student mental health resources.
The amount matches the total the state's unemployment insurance fund paid out to Ikea workers affected by temporary coronavirus-related store closures. Gov. Tim Walz on Friday said the funds would go to Minnesota's School-Linked Mental Health Program, which includes 58 providers that work with 1,100 schools around the state.
"These providers play a critical role in caring for the health of our children and families, especially now in coping with the isolation and the stress that's come along with distance learning," Walz said. "The mental health toll that this is taking is real."
Mental health experts said the funding comes at a time when Minnesotans are experiencing additional anxiety and stress due to the coronavirus pandemic and state actions aimed at quelling the virus' spread. And while teachers are trained to detect signs of mental health concerns in students, those may be missed as students spend less time in the classroom.
Meanwhile, some children who'd previously been diagnosed with mental health conditions have not responded well to telehealth services or haven't had access to in-person day services, National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota Executive Director Sue Abderholden said.
“What we’re seeing is children who already had a mental illness before the pandemic hit are definitely struggling during this time,” Abderholden said.
Even prior to the pandemic, more than one in four Minnesota students reported feeling depressed or anxious, according to a 2019 student health survey.
State officials and others on Friday urged Minnesotans to seek health if they were feeling stress, anxiety or other mental health concerns.
"So many of us are experiencing increased levels of stress and fear and worry, loneliness or anxiety during these challenging times and if these words resonate with you, I want you to know that you are not alone," Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said. "There is no shame in asking for help, especially after we've been in this for so many months and it is getting harder in this moment."
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health issue or psychiatric crisis, text MN to the number 741-741.