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Mental health is a very important part of our lives and I don't think it gets talked about or put into focus enough, especially for students. Allina Health is working on changing that with their 'Change to Chill' program. They started this program in the 2018-2019 school year. This year Faribault High School is one of 16 schools that have been selected for the program. Faribault Area Learning Center was also selected.

This program not only helps students but also the staff at the school. And all of the resources offered through 'Change to Chill' are free. According to the news release from Allina Health with this announcement, this is what the 'Change to Chill' program focuses on:

[It's] centered around student leadership, stress management and mental health training sessions for school staff, outreach and engagement with guardians and a $1000 grant to put toward creating a “Chill Zone” – a space created by student interns to de-stress and relax before returning to class.

This year's big focus is going to be on the pandemic and how students and staff can manage their stress and keeping their mental health in check. These are important tools to have even without a pandemic. In the new release from Allina Health, they say that in the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, 23% of students "report having long-term mental health, behavioral or emotional problems." This is an increase from the 2018 survey where the percentage was 18%.

I'm glad to see that local schools are getting a chance to really dive into mental health and managing stress. Here is the list of all of the Minnesota and Western Wisconsin schools that were selected for the 'Change to Chill' program this year:

Buffalo Middle School
Cambridge Middle School
Faribault Area Learning Center
Faribault High School
Forest Lake Middle School
Hastings Middle School
Hidden Oaks Middle School (Prior Lake, Minn.)
Isanti Middle School
Meyer Middle School (River Falls, Wis.)
Orono High School
Red Rock Central High School (Lamberton, Minn.)
Saint Francis High School
Southwest High School (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Stillwater High School
Twin Oaks Middle School (Prior Lake, Minn.)