August 2023 News!

Hello everyone!

As the sun sets on another beautiful summer, let's all remember to savor the sweet moments we've had in the sunshine—the laughter, adventures, and memories that will warm our hearts as the days grow shorter. These quite simply, are the days.

The work of grieving and remembrance combined with advocacy and awareness create a unique experience for those of us deeply rooted within this work. However, we know those we grieve and love would want us to chase the sunshine, and enjoy what these glorious days have to offer. We do our best season after season to live in that space, the in-between, the here and now.

So to that, may you all enjoy the fleeting warmth of summer as it lingers on and the joy of these days within your soul. Here's to the sweetness of summer, and to the promise of many more to come. Wishing you a delightful end to this season and an even brighter journey ahead. We are grateful to each of you.

Be well,

Reyne & Scott Roeder


The Co-Responder Model

Mental Health Professionals & Law Enforcement Work Together to Help Community Members in Crisis

When dispatching police officers to mental health calls in their communities, more and more agencies nationwide are looking to partner with mental health teams to assist with mental health specific calls. This fact and the increasing number of these particular types of emergency calls have changed how mental health 911 calls are handled across

Minnesota and around the country. In many areas, licensed mental health professionals are now paired with law enforcement on emergency calls to provide mental health support to individuals in crisis. 

Specifically, here in central Minnesota, professionals from Central Minnesota Mental Health Center (CMMHC) embed with crisis-intervention-trained officers from police departments in Becker, Big Lake, Elk River, St. Cloud, and rural Stearns County to respond to mental health related 911 calls. This strategic partnership began in the spring of 2020 and has expanded to 5 Co-Responders. They serve as an extension of CMMHC’s mobile crisis response team, which provides immediate support when community members call for help during a mental health crisis - offering mental health consultation to police officers during these calls. 

An article from St. Cloud Live shares data on increasing mental health crises requiring emergency response. From 2018 to 2022, the number of behavioral health calls that the St. Cloud police department received have increased by 78%:

  • 2018: 583

  • 2019: 641

  • 2020: 958

  • 2021: 1,015

  • 2022: 1,039

In the field, co-responders follow protocols from partnering police officers regarding on- scene safety and security measures. They conduct mental health evaluations (including suicide and safety assessments), problem identification, crisis intervention, and treatment planning. Mental health and trauma training guide co-responders to de-escalate the individual and resolve the immediate distressing situation, determining whether an individual is safe to remain in the community or if it is necessary to consider other alternatives. Because they are mental health professionals, they are able to make clinical decisions and connect people to proper resources such as primary care, social services, housing, and mental health or chemical use treatment. 

Co-responders follow up with individuals after interactions on an emergency call by phone, messages, or on-site visits. This carry-through helps to ensure that the focus moves beyond the individual’s encounter with the police and provides a continuum of care to get them the help they need. For a community, this succeeds in filling in the gaps for people with mental health issues by connecting them to necessary services.

In addition to responding to 911 crisis calls and collaborating with law enforcement, co-responders develop relationships with emergency departments, human services, and community members. They serve as a resource connection to facilitate mental health training for police department staff and community members. CMMHC’s co-responders provide a valuable service by helping everyone gain knowledge and experience to better support those with mental health issues in our community.


Suicide Prevention Minnesota State Plan Announced

The 2023-2027 Minnesota State Suicide Prevention Plan provides a framework for people, communities, organizations, and governments to take action to prevent suicides. Through this plan and the actions of all, we can reverse the increasing trend in the number of suicide deaths each year.

The State Suicide Prevention Plan is based on the belief that suicides can be prevented, healing is possible, and help is available.

Download the complete 2023-2027 Minnesota State Suicide Prevention Plan (PDF).

A Comprehensive Approach

Suicide affects people from every race, age, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, and ability in Minnesota. Minnesota has seen a consistent, decade-long increasing trend in the number of deaths by suicide each year, similar to trends across the United States. While death by suicide occurs at the individual level, each person lives in context of relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and within neighborhoods, community, and society.

The State Plan outlines two main goals:

  1. Improve, expand, and coordinate the suicide prevention infrastructure in Minnesota.

  2. Prevent Minnesotans from having suicidal experiences and improve the lives of all those who are struggling, so they know they are not alone, help is available, and healing is possible.

The 2023-2027 Minnesota State Suicide Prevention Plan calls for a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention. A comprehensive approach includes:

  • Improving infrastructure

  • Increasing collaboration

  • Building capacity for local communities to work in upstream prevention, early intervention, crisis intervention, and postvention (support after a death by suicide).

It is important for us to take a comprehensive public health approach to suicide prevention that includes strategies for individuals, families, and communities. Implementation of complementary prevention strategies tailored for populations who are most at risk within a community can lessen harm and prevent future risk. Research has shown that people are less likely to attempt suicide or to die by suicide in communities that support, care for, and affirm all their members.

Opportunities for Action

​This section outlines concrete ways individuals, organizations, and communities can help prevent suicide in Minnesota. Opportunities for action and additional resources to help support individuals who want to further contribute to suicide prevention efforts. Opportunity for action documents available: 


United Way of Central MN Addresses Community Health

Interview with Merary Rangel, Mental Health Navigator at CMMHC

When you or a loved one needs mental health support, some of the most challenging steps to take may be the first ones. There may be more questions than answers: What is going on? Who should I call? Where do I make an appointment? Which provider is right for me? Can I afford care and treatment? How long do I need to wait until I get an appointment?

Finding the right help at the right time may feel overwhelming. Central Minnesota healthcare practitioners and mental health advocates recognize these challenges. That’s also where the efforts of United Way of Central Minnesota’s Health Committee come in.

The health committee brings local experts and community members together to identify the issues surrounding the health and wellness of Central Minnesotans. Local providers, a suicide prevention expert, a suicide loss survivor, representatives from county government and a local school district comprise the committee. The group meets regularly to collaborate and find ways to collectively address our community’s most urgent health needs.

The committee understands that navigating a complex system of providers, insurers and treatments to access help efficiently is often challenging. The group works together to identify which solutions may best address community needs. One of those solutions includes supporting the position of mental health navigator in the St. Cloud area. A mental health navigator helps callers sort through the many mental health and social service options available, determines what services and treatment options are a good fit and develops connections between callers and quality resources. This work simplifies connecting to care and may even shorten the time between the initial call and getting help.

Health committee member Melinda Gau discusses the group’s efforts to secure a mental health navigator. “The health committee has worked towards right-time, right-place access to mental health care for our kids, caregivers and programs to address community needs. We identified a need for a community mental health navigator and secured grant funding for this role. United Way partnered with Central Minnesota Mental Health Center (CMMHC) to make this happen. As a health committee member, I am dedicated to continuing to improve the health and lives of Central Minnesotans.”

 Interview with Merary Rangel, MHP, BA 

We recently sat down with the new mental health navigator at CMMHC, and discussed how her work paves the way for better mental health awareness and access in our community.

Describe what you do as a mental health navigator

I get people the help and resources they need. Sometimes people need those right away, like when they need therapy. Maybe they do a Google search and call the first phone number they see on their screen. There could be a three-month wait at that provider, and maybe they’re in a crisis. My job is to help them get the needed resources and get them into therapy faster. I’ll research to help them within a shorter time span.

Describe your background and how you came to your position

My background in mental health started when I was a certified nursing assistant working on a dementia unit. At first, my career was going towards nursing, but once I started helping those with dementia, I found a lot of satisfaction in offering support with mental health challenges. I changed careers and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I worked at a hospital crisis center and as an adult rehabilitative mental health services provider, helping people with a mental illness diagnostic assessment get skills. When I saw this position open up, I felt my background perfectly fit the job.

How long have you been in your role at CMMH?

I have been at CMMHC for six months now. It’s a short time, but I enjoy working here daily.

Describe a typical call you may receive regarding mental health services

A typical call I get is for someone who needs therapy right away. Sometimes, when a person is in crisis, they’ll call 9-8-8, and that service transfers them to CMMHC in St. Cloud for Stearns, Sherburne, Benton, or Wright counties. I gather basic information—does the person have insurance? Where do they live? Are they interested in telehealth or in-person therapy? Is culturally-responsive care essential for them? How soon might they be able to access services? The biggest thing I look for when gathering information on a call is if the person calling has insurance. Asking about that is an important part.

Callers may be in crisis, sometimes distressed and nervous, when they reach out. They may feel overwhelmed and need help right away. I sometimes tell them to breathe, reassuring them that it’s okay and that we will find help. I let them know what options are available based on the information they give me. I suggest that options X, Y, or Z are best. At the end of the conversation, callers might say, “Oh, thank you so much! I needed you. I’m going to keep your phone number. Can you call me again in a week?” I always do a one-week follow-up to see if the callers got the needed services. Often, they say, “You have no idea how much you’ve helped me!” And to me, that’s what makes me happy. I played a role in getting them the services they needed.

Why do you think a role like yours is vital within communities?

A mental health navigator’s role is essential because I support people. I also speak Spanish so I can advocate for Hispanic mental health. I help people get the services they need faster. Sometimes people don’t know how to navigate the system, and I’m there to walk them through that process and advocate for them.

What is the number one thing you want people to know about mental health?

I know that in some families, the concept of mental health is that what you feel is not accurate. Family members may say, “It’s all in your head,” or “You’re just looking for attention.” I, myself, have a diagnosis of depression, and it’s hard sometimes. I want people to know mental health issues are real. I want people to be more accepting and stop stigmatizing mental health concerns and labeling people as “crazy” or “lazy” because accepting these issues may already be challenging. I hope people understand that.

How can people take action for themselves and their loved ones as they face mental health challenges?

I think for families and those facing mental health challenges, you can advocate for yourself by speaking to someone you trust. Sometimes that feels uncomfortable. Sometimes that feels embarrassing. But speaking up is one way to advocate for yourself. For those who have family members experiencing mental health challenges, I would say talking to them about this helps.

Explain how you feel about United Way’s partnership with CMMH. How is this beneficial for the community?

The partnership between CMMHC and United Way helps us all by giving the community needed resources. This partnership bridges the gap between community members and available services. A mental health navigator helps fix those little holes to make things easier for people.

What steps can the community take to solve the mental health issues we currently face?
One way the community can do this is to talk about mental health. Sometimes people are ashamed, or families say, “Don’t talk about that.” In reality, we should talk about these things to support those facing these challenges. We need to make that okay. We need to help people feel it is okay to say, “I’m not okay,” so we can support one another.

Addressing Our Community's Most Urgent Health Challenges

Supporting Merary Rangel's work as a mental health navigator is just one way United Way of Central Minnesota’s Health Committee is finding solutions that address our community’s most urgent health challenges. The health committee continues to work to ensure better health for all of us and United Way of Central Minnesota appreciates the efforts of health committee members who bring their experiences, knowledge and passion for our community to the discussion.

If you or a loved one would like to connect with Merary Rangel at CMMHC, please call 320-202-2077.


Join Team Jackson @ AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk St. Cloud 10/7

We are currently recruiting a team to honor Jackson at the St. Cloud Out of the Darkness Walk on October 7th at Lake George.

The event is sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and would love for you to join us. Select ‘Team Jackson’ upon registering. If you are unable to join us in person but are interested in supporting our efforts, select Walk Virtually, and donations can be made directly to Team Jackson.

To register for the St. Cloud walk, visit the AFSP site here.


Team Jackson participated in the 11th Annual Matt Orth Memorial Golf Tournament at Wapicada August 5th. Our team took first in the mixed division! But sweeter than that victory was the surprise $2,500 donation to Jackson’s fund the Orth family presented us with. We are grateful to walk alongside families like the Orths as we honor our sons and the legacies of their lives. Thank you for your support!

Resources & Can't-Miss:

Changing the Narrative
Online Workshop designed to foster interactive, empowering conversation for those willing to change perceptions of mental health towards hope and resilience. February 23rd 9am-11am. Free registration.

Building Happier Humans
Story from Forbes on the ways we perceive social media use, constant access to the news, and let it interfere with our emotional regulation and mental health.

ASIST Training in Bemidji
Two-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST) workshop offering skills, awareness, and know-how. Gain invaluable knowledge about suicide and the confidence to help save a life. March 9th and 10th, 8:30-4:30. Contact Jodi for info.

National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline
Call or text 988.

Continue to stay up-to-date by following the Jackson Roeder Memorial Fund Facebook page where we will share information and events with the community on mental health and suicide prevention.