Passing the BALL we are in this together

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Campaign Materials

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Expanding our BALL Collaboration with NAMI (Tobacco Free Communities grantee’s name), to support overall tobacco cessation effort in MN

***Please read the original article at Minnesota Department of Health Website

Sue Abderholden is motivated in her work by a disturbing statistic: people with mental illnesses die on average 20 to 25 years earlier than their peers without mental illnesses. Many of these deaths are due to health problems caused by smoking, including lung cancer, COPD, and heart disease.

Abderholden is the Executive Director of the NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness), an organization that for more than four decades has offered education, support and advocacy on behalf of those with a mental illness. More recently, NAMI Minnesota has been expanding its work to address the health and wellness of people living with a mental illness, especially to encourage smoking cessation.

NAMI Minnesota is supported in this work as one of eleven recipients of a Tobacco-Free Communities (TFC) grant from the Minnesota Department of Health, a program to reduce smoking, prevent youth commercial tobacco use, and address tobacco-related disparities in Minnesota. The program is part of a growing movement to promote community-driven tobacco prevention and control activities and strategies.

Mental health providers reluctant to add cessation to the many challenges of mental illness
Compared to just 15.2% of all Minnesotans, 31.6% of Minnesotans with mental illness smoke; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people in the United States with mental illness purchase 40% of all cigarettes sold. Yet mental health professionals receive little or no formal training in tobacco cessation.

To better understand this issue, NAMI Minnesota surveyed 113 mental health providers as part of a community assessment. “The first thing we learned when we began working on tobacco use was that very few mental health providers wanted even to ask an individual with a serious mental illness about smoking,” said Abderholden. Providers said that with all the challenges these folks face—many experience homelessness, multiple hospitalizations, or interactions with the criminal justice system—it seemed like a burden to ask them about quitting smoking. Many feared that if they ask about smoking, the client would never come back. “But for a lot of people the only relationship they have with a health care professional is with their mental health provider,” Abderholden observed, “and, frankly, we were surprised they weren’t bringing it up, because smoking has such a horrible impact on health.”

New approach is specifically tailored to people with a mental illness
Those living with a mental illness may experience tobacco use and quitting differently than the larger community. They may struggle more with addiction, be more dependent on social interactions associated with smoking, and find it harder to quit.

Meanwhile, health providers and the general public have misconceptions about smoking and mental illness. “Some mistakenly think smoking behavior is actually helping the person with their mental illness,” reported Catherine Gangi, Wellness Coordinator at NAMI Minnesota, “which the data show is incorrect.” This attitude is not uncommon, for example, among providers in the substance abuse and addiction treatment system.

A new approach, tailored to people with mental illnesses, was needed. “We decided to develop training for mental health providers focusing on mental illness, smoking, and the options for cessation,” said Gangi. NAMI Minnesota could see that trying to train mental health providers individually would limit participation, so they decided to develop an online training that could reach many more providers.

In addition to using information collected from providers in the assessment, NAMI Minnesota created a Smoking Cessation Advisory Committee to guide the development of the training. Once the training is complete, NAMI Minnesota will pilot the training with three mental health provider organizations. During these partnerships, they will be counting the number of mental health providers trained, watching for increases in referrals to cessation, and tracking changes in individual smoking behavior by looking at medical chart data in a way that protects and preserves patient privacy. After pilot testing has been completed, the training will be offered statewide.

Creating and launching the online training is a large undertaking, and the 5-year MDH TFC grant is important for making the training truly community-centered, sustainable, and eligible for CEU credits. By using the Smoking Cessation Advisory Committee to guide the training, NAMI Minnesota was able to incorporate examples and stories from community members who live with a mental illness about their experiences with tobacco use. These stories allow providers to understand more fully the challenges their clients face when quitting smoking.

Sharing personal stories is important for changing attitudes
“When someone with a mental illness talks about how they struggle to quit smoking, and the life experiences that make it more difficult, it can change the attitudes of mental health providers because they’re hearing an individual’s story,” explained Abderholden.

“We asked people to tell us about their experiences with mental illness and smoking,” said Gangi. “Many told us about their addiction, the need to have something in their hand, how incredibly hard it was to cut out even one cigarette.” When it takes an average of seven to ten attempts to quit smoking, “that can be really discouraging, especially if you’re living with a mental illness,” observed Gangi.

NAMI Minnesota also learned about other ways smoking can compound the challenges of daily living for people living with a mental illness, and how providers are in a position to help. “If someone is able to use a nicotine patch instead of losing their housing, we can keep them from being affected in these other ways,” said Gangi. “People can continue their recovery processes while being able to cut down or stop tobacco use.”

A vision of community-based change in attitudes and systems
NAMI staff members working on this project want mental health providers to see their role in helping clients quit smoking—to integrate cessation as part of the person’s journey toward wellness, not a health concern that is separate from mental illness treatment. Abderholden added that by offering this online training to providers, “we want to support more people with mental illnesses to quit smoking and improve their overall health.”

In closing, Gangi said NAMI Minnesota wants to empower mental health providers. “Through education, we want to give them the confidence to do something that directly helps individuals living with mental illnesses in Minnesota.”

Learn more about NAMI Minnesota at

Download this story: Online Provider Training will Deliver Quit Services to More People Living with Mental Illness (PDF)

Download this story from us: NAMI Minnesota to Deliver Quit Services to More People Living with Mental Illness (PDF)

Download another story from the Tobacco Free Community: Pillsbury United Communities Helping Smokers Reduce Stress of Poverty Is Key to Quitting (PDF)[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][image src=”3547″ alt=”Sue Abderholden” href=”” title=”Sue Abderholden” info_content=”” lightbox_caption=”” id=”” class=”” style=””][vc_separator color=”custom” accent_color=”#4f6a35″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” el_class=”ball-cam” css=”.vc_custom_1526520823136{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

May BALL Announcements:


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1. Healthy Living Is More Than Physical. It Includes Your Mind, Body, and Soul

On May 31, 2018, Asian Media Access participated at the Summit Academy Health Fair that AOIC hosted on-site. There were 15 vendors and about 150 attendees that participated. This health fair was to encourage their students to have a healthy lifestyle.

The vendors ranged from Asian Media Access to getting tested for STD to introducing the participates to the importance of a Work / Life Balance. We were able to inform the participates of our IT classes such as “Let’s Get It” to other opportunities that AMA had at our Northeast building. In doing so, we were also able to introduce the concept of Bi-cultural Healthy Living and hand out the brochures.

Participates asked many different questions about BALL such as: “What is BALL?” and “How can I learn more about it?” It was explained that healthy living is not just a western concept but also giving yourself permission to incorporate your own cultural values as you strive for a healthy life style. They were also directed to the BALL Facebook page:

Overall, the participants enjoyed the fair and learned that healthy living is more than just physical exercise. It also incorporates your mind, body and soul. Which is what BALL emphasizes to the community as Asian Media Access outreaches by going to different events, word of mouth, eNewsletter and any other avenues that would promote Bi-cultural healthy Living. [/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][image src=”3546″ alt=”Pan Asian Arts Festival 2018″ href=”” title=”Pan Asian Arts Festival 2018″ info_content=”” lightbox_caption=”” id=”” class=”” style=””][vc_separator color=”custom” accent_color=”#4f6a35″]

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2. For the Patrick Henry High School Step Team, Victory Is Theirs

On April 21, 2018, PHHS Elite Step Team won 1st Place over six other teams at the Soul Stepping Scholars Stump Down. Victory was certainly theirs that day and continue to have a victorious 2018 according to their Couch Quinton Bond.
The team was formed in 2011 when Coach Bond started coaching them. One of the things that he is proudest of is that his team is a “diverse team.” Bond mentioned that stepping is usually an African American phenomenon but his team consists of students from different backgrounds.
Bi-cultural Healthy Living is a concept that will be introduced to the team and why it is important to incorporate exercise in their life now and throughout their adult life. These 11 teammates have certainly had a fantastic “Step Year.” They practiced 7 hours per week and get a break in the summer. As BALL is introduced to the team, it will be encouraged that they continue to exercise but also encouraged to incorporate their cultural heritage.
As I talked with Bond, he mentioned that 2018 consisted of the team performing at the Pre-Game for the Super bowl, Capri Theater, Hennepin County and the Mayor. As he puts it, the number of performances have not been as many but on a higher caliber. I sensed he is certainly a “proud papa” and will continued to develop the team physically, academically and spiritually.
Asian Media Access wants to congratulate the PHHS Elite Step Team on their victory and continued success in the near future (they are prepping for the State Fair competition starting in July)
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3. Asian Media Access and the Pan Asian Arts Alliance had More than 73 Performance Teams at Their Annual Pan Asian Arts Festival

Asian Media Access collaborated with Pan Asian Arts Alliance held 7th Annual Pan Asian Arts Festival on Saturday, May 19th, 2018, from 11 am to 8:00pm at Mall of America, with more than 73 performing groups.

The festival is to foster collaboration among Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) performing arts/cultural groups and expose more cultural and arts activities during May Pan Asian Heritage Month with Pan Asian arts/cultural demonstrations free of charge, to support the communities with better access to diverse Pan Asian Arts/Customs and Cultures. While promoting a sense of unity, this festival had celebrated the rich cultural diversity within the vibrant local AAPI community with the public. During the festival, 73 enthusiastic groups demonstrated various Asian performing arts including Asian Indian, Cambodian, Chinese, Hmong, Indonesia, K-Pop, Thai, Lao and other multicultural groups to celebrate Pan Asian Heritage month.

Pan Asian Arts Festival highlighted a new Asian American generation – their interpretation of the traditional arts and cultures. It also showed an understanding to support people of color by identifying the cultural implications and skills from their diverse life experiences.

Over 3,000 people gathered together to catch a glimpse of the collections of the performances as well as enjoyed the different arts and crafts, and educational enrichment from the Pan Asian community. Activities included lucky fish making, paper cutting, and other related Asian culture activities that the attendees enjoyed very much.

AMA collected more than 150+ evaluation forms, many attendees commented that the event was amazing and various cultural performances were spectacular. Others said the Pan Asian Arts Festival has demonstrated an understanding that there is no dominant culture, all cultures should be proud of and practice with.[/vc_column_text][image src=”3545″ alt=”Pan Asian Arts Festival 2018 Performance Team” href=”” title=”Pan Asian Arts Festival 2018 Performance Team” info_content=”” lightbox_caption=”” id=”” class=”” style=””][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]