NEAR science: good for what ails stressed communities News, Sports, Jobs

NEW ULM – May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year the need for mental health education and services has never been higher.

Mental Health Month started in 1949 to increase awareness of the importance of mental health and wellness in Americans’ lives and to celebrate recovery from mental illness.

After more than two years of societal disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, this year several Brown County organizations are working to promote the month.

Mental Health Awareness month is represented by a green ribbon. Throughout the month green ribbons will be displayed at the Community Service Building, 1117 Center St. and Brown County drop-in Center, 1113 Center St.

From 9 am to 2:30 pm Tuesday, May 3, The Heart of New Ulm Brown County Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Team, in collaboration with the Families First Collaborative of Brown County, will be offering a presentation called “Understanding NEAR Science: Building Self-Healing Communities.”

The presentation covers the basics of NEAR science – which stands for neurobiology, epigenetics, Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) and resilience – a study of the relationship between health risks and behaviors to exposure to adverse childhood experiences. People who experienced abuse, neglect or household dysfunction as a child were more likely to have increased risks of chronic health conditions and death, as well as increased participation in risky behaviors.

Additional research has shown experiences such as racism, neighborhood safety, community violence, bullying, and living in foster care can increase the likelihood of increased health risks.

Over the last few decades, research has expanded on what can be done to prevent adverse childhood experiences and how people can move past their experiences to live healthy and safe lives.

The building self-healing communities presentation is intended to start an ongoing communitywide conversation between professionals, law enforcement, parents, faith leaders, educators and neighbors about how to change the narrative of the future of communities.

The “Understanding NEAR Science: Building Self-Healing Communities” presentation is free and open to the public; however, space is limited, and registration is required. For information and to register, visit

A similar presentation has been held in Brown County before, but due to the COVID pandemic few public health presentations were possible. The pandemic also created a need for greater need for mental health services as many were affected by the health crisis.

The Brown County Local Advisory Committee will be hosting a Mental Health Walk on Tuesday, May 17, in Harman Park in New Ulm. The walk is open to everyone wishing to show support for mental health in the community. Registration for the walk is at 12:30 pm at Harman Park. There will be two routes to accommodate differing physical capabilities. The walk will be followed by professional speakers sharing their knowledge and experience regarding mental health recovery.

The local advisory committee is made of members of the public, professionals and providers with an interest in mental health and support in the county. The goal of the committee is to have a conversation about mental health, advocacy, combatting stigma and creating a supportive community for those struggling with their mental health.

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