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In our Staff Showcase series, we’re highlighting individuals who make Canvas Health an exceptional mental health provider. Today, we shine the spotlight on Heather Mundis and Nancy Nelson, who have dedicated their careers to making a difference in our community.

Join us in thanking our incredible staff for their contributions to our mission!

Celebrating 25 Years with Canvas Health

Heather Mundis

Heather Mundis, staff showcaseHeather Mundis has had a tremendous career at Canvas Health. Twenty-five years ago she was hired in HSI’s violence intervention program for adolescents. From there Heather’s leadership was recognized and when HSI was approached to build a mobile crisis team, Heather was up to the challenge. She built and then ran a 24/7/365 mobile crisis team serving Washington County. Her wonderful work over the years poised Canvas Health to take on 7 additional counties providing mobile crisis services.

When Heather reflects back on all her accomplishments over the years, her proudest moments are building the mobile crisis team and saving so many lives through the work. Seven years ago an opportunity opened up in outpatient where Heather would be allotted the ability to be located closer to her home in Forest Lake.  She welcomed the shorter drives and ability to take on a new challenge, becoming the supervisor in the outpatient clinic.

Over the years she has been an ambassador to other programs in the Forest Lake office as well as showing willingness to go to external events to help highlight the need for mental health services and promote the great work that is being done at Canvas Health. Heather always prides herself on trying to help her staff and clients through attending to the physical, emotional, sexual, and spiritual health for all those served in Forest Lake.  Heather exemplifies the mission of Canvas Health by instilling hope to all those who come in contact with her; provide healing to her clients and coworkers; and by promoting recovery in her daily work with her clients and all the clients who are seen at the Forest Lake clinic. Canvas Health has benefited greatly for Heather’s 25 years of dedication and service.

Nancy Nelson

Nancy Nelson, staff showcaseCanvas Health has had the privilege of having Nancy Nelson part of our staff for well over 20 years. If you know Nancy you know that being the center of attention is not something she enjoys, and you also know that Nancy has always taken pride in her work. She expresses gratitude for being given the opportunity to work with so many amazing people, both staff and clients. She views problems and struggles as opportunities to overcome, and she has always kept clients at the center of her work long before person-centered thinking was a thing.

Nancy began working for Canvas Health in 1997 as a vocational counselor and she can tell you about the many changes and roles she has participated in over the years. In 2010, Nancy decided to take a break from Canvas Health, but about 6 months later John Savereide approached her about a great opportunity at Canvas to make a difference in people’s lives. Nancy returned because of her respect for John and excitement about the work. She has been working with John in Housing Services ever since. They have been the dynamic duo of housing and helping people succeed in their housing.

Nancy always sees the good in people and situations. She is always kind, genuine, and willing to lend a helping hand. Even though she is “retired,” she continues working for Canvas 8 hours a week because she wants to make sure Canvas’s transition out of some housing programs goes well.  Again, always thinking about ways she can help.  It is with respect and gratitude that we say THANK YOU Nancy for all that you have done to make the world a better place for so many people.

Staff Showcase: Celebrating 25 Years

In our Staff Showcase series, we’re highlighting individuals who make Canvas Health an exceptional mental health provider. Today, we shine the spotlight on Heather Mundis and Nancy Nelson, who have dedicated their careers to making a difference in our community. Join us in thanking our incredible staff for their contributions to our mission! Celebrating 25 […]

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Due to the pandemic, Mike* lost his job in April of 2020. In his past work history, he had experience as a prep cook and dishwasher, but was struggling to find jobs on his own. It was assumed he was often overlooked for jobs he was perfectly qualified for due to his presentation.

That’s where the Partnering for Jobs Employment Specialist came in to assist Mike in his exploration.

Many individuals with mental health disabilities have difficulty holding jobs due to the cyclical nature of their illness or insufficient coping and work-related skills. Yet, employment plays a significant role in recovery from mental illness. Canvas Health provides vocational services to help these individuals seek and attain employment, and to develop skills to help them maintain employment.

For Mike, our Employment Specialist was able to communicate directly with employers to inform them of Mike’s skills, experience, and suitability for the job. One of those conversations landed him a job interview at Red Robin, where he was hired on the spot for a dishwasher/prep cook position.

Thanks to Mike’s persistence and his Employment Specialist’s support, he is able to work in an environment he enjoys and with people he thinks of as family. He often tells his Employment Specialist how thankful he is for the support he has received from his employer and the Partnering for Jobs program.

“I’m just so speechless. I’ve never had this much support in my life from anyone… and I’m not going anywhere!” – Mike, Canvas Health client*

Learn more about our Vocational Services for Adults and Youth to see how our specialists can help with:

  • Job placement, coaching, and support
  • Vocational counseling
  • Benefits counseling
  • Job retention and follow-along supports
  • Integration of mental health care with Partnering for Jobs services

Partnering for Jobs services are funded by Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services and are provided at no cost to participants. This program is offered in collaboration with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Partnering for Jobs Connects Loyal Staff with Grateful Employers

Due to the pandemic, Mike* lost his job in April of 2020. In his past work history, he had experience as a prep cook and dishwasher, but was struggling to find jobs on his own. It was assumed he was often overlooked for jobs he was perfectly qualified for due to his presentation. That’s where […]

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This article was prepared by Noreen S. Raja as a part of Canvas Health’s APA-accredited Doctoral Internship in Clinical and Health Service Psychology Program. As part of their year-long internships, interns research and present two case conferences. In recognition of Autism Awareness Month (April), following is Raja’s research into communication deficits in Autism.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), ASD is characterized by “communication and interaction with individuals, restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.” These symptoms affect the ability to function in school, work and other areas. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describes Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a neurodevelopmental disorder caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition and other causes are not yet known.

What are common symptoms of ASD?

As children with ASD transition into adolescence and young adulthood, they may experience difficulties with communicating with peers and adults, developing and maintaining friendships or understand what behaviors are expected of them in school or at work. Additionally, co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more prevalent in individuals with ASD than in people without.

Communication deficits are one of the core symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. Some people with ASD can be slow to begin talking or may not learn to talk at all, and others may learn to produce words and sentences but have difficulty using them in social interaction with others. This heterogenous subgroup remains under-researched despite the fact that approximately 30% of children with ASD remain minimally-speaking or non-speaking into adulthood.

Features of non-/minimally speaking Autism

Although nonspeaking or minimally speaking can make communicating with others challenging at times, the absence of verbal communication does not indicate that an autistic person is not communicating. Some may require extra support to help them communicate effectively through other means. Some features of non-/minimally speaking autistic individuals include cortical structural changes which can impact the processing of language and speech production (Jack and Pelphrey, 2017).

Furthermore, some studies indicate visual processing impairment in minimally speaking children with ASD which can negatively influence the acquisition of language (Ortiz-Mantilla et al., 2019) Additionally, due to limited research in this area, there is no single mechanism that suggest underlying difficulties in learning to speak within minimally speaking individuals. Studies have also shown that impairments in pragmatic speech are a distinctive feature of ASD regardless of language level or age (Valle et al., 2020).

Things to consider when working with non-/minimally speaking autistic individuals

One way to accommodate these individuals is to provide access to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), which allows them to communicate their thoughts and experiences. Recognizing the importance of valuing non-verbal forms of communication for this population is essential. For example, some studies have indicated that students prefer to use non-speaking modes of communication with their teachers because it helped to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Additionally, be aware of the needs of diverse families in addition to the child. As Hanson and Lynch (2013) state: “Working as a culturally responsive educator requires professionals to be sensitive of families’ differences in beliefs, behaviors, languages, viewpoints, ways of thinking, interacting and worshipping; for they can create both texture and tension in the world.”

 

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Washington, DC

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Mental Health (Updated 2022). Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved from NIMH autism spectrum disorder (nih.gov)

Jack, A., & A. Pelphrey, K. (2017). Annual Research Review: Understudied populations within the autism spectrum–current trends and future directions in neuroimaging research. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry58(4), 411-435.

La Valle, C., Plesa-Skwerer, D., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2020). Comparing the pragmatic speech profiles of minimally verbal and verbally fluent individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders50, 3699-3713.

Ortiz-Mantilla, S., Cantiani, C., Shafer, V. L., & Benasich, A. A. (2019). Minimally-verbal children with autism show deficits in theta and gamma oscillations during processing of semantically-related visual information. Scientific reports9(1), 5072.

Understanding Communication Deficits in Autism

This article was prepared by Noreen S. Raja as a part of Canvas Health’s APA-accredited Doctoral Internship in Clinical and Health Service Psychology Program. As part of their year-long internships, interns research and present two case conferences. In recognition of Autism Awareness Month (April), following is Raja’s research into communication deficits in Autism. What is […]

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With the help of the District 916 Innovation Grant, 916 Mahtomedi Academy has partnered with Cerresso Fort, owner of SIR Boxing, to offer students boxing workshops.

This unique program is designed for students who aspire to learn more about boxing or to reach their wellness goals. The 12 boxing workshops began in January 18 and will continue through mid-April 2023.

Christina Blaszczyk is the Mahtomedi Academy’s Mental Health/Canvas Health School-Based Therapist who kickstarted the partnership with SIR Boxing.

Christina’s goal with the boxing program is to help students work on both physical and mental wellness while learning valuable life skills. Christina knew that boxing is so much more than throwing punches. Like many sports, it requires mental discipline as well as physical discipline.

Cerresso, pictured here with Tricia Giese, Mahtomedi Academy staff member, agrees.

“SIR boxing works with building and strengthening the mind. Mindset is everything. When you practice mindfulness, you improve your ability to respond instead of react. Students practice self compassion, self control. We also are building confidence in our youth. Students are getting out of their comfort zones and developing a weekly routine,” Cerresso said.

The benefits go on and on, but there’s one crucial element that that makes this program a true success: having fun!

One student summed it up perfectly, as only a student can. “So far, it’s been pretty great – all of it has been really fun.”

The program is a great success so far and Canvas Health is looking forward to continuing this partnership between SIR Boxing and 916 Mahtomedi Academy into the future.

For more information on how boxing can impact mental and physical health, see articles below:

Healthline Article – Boxing Benefits: 6 Reasons to Try Throwing a Punch

Harper Bazaar Article – 6 ways boxing can benefit your mental health

CrediHealth Article – Step Into the Ring and Feel the Benefits of Youth Boxing

Boxing Helps Strengthen Students Mental and Physical Health

With the help of the District 916 Innovation Grant, 916 Mahtomedi Academy has partnered with Cerresso Fort, owner of SIR Boxing, to offer students boxing workshops. This unique program is designed for students who aspire to learn more about boxing or to reach their wellness goals. The 12 boxing workshops began in January 18 and […]

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Canvas Health is pleased to welcome an amazing team of Adult Case Managers to our agency. With their help, we will be able to do more to assist adults with severe mental health needs in receiving mental health, social, educational, employment, and other necessary services. The goal of Adult Case Management is to help these individuals to function and remain within the community.

Our newest employees embody all the best qualities of what makes case managers special. And through their individual roles, they will help Canvas Health to reach more clients.

Meet the Adult Case Management team

Erica Morris leads the team, providing oversight to the Adult Case Management and Housing Services teams.

Megan Swanson serves as our Washington County Adult Mental Health Case Manager. Megan is accepting referrals for clients who live in Washington County and have a PMAP.

Autumn Borgen is our Minnesota Community Healthcare Network (MCHN) Adult Case Manager. She works clients on brief 90-day case management services.

Supporting our CCBHC Certification

Adding this case management team is just one way that Canvas Health is expanding on services we already provide as a part of our Certified Community Behavioral Health Center (CCBHC) certification. Canvas Health is now one of 13 CCBHCs in Minnesota, and is authorized to provide CCBHC services to individuals on Medicaid in Anoka, Chisago, Hennepin, Isanti, Scott, and Washington counties. Check out our announcement here.

Learn more about Adult Case Management

Visit our Case Management page to learn more about eligibility criteria and the referral process for working with our case managers. In addition to offering case management for adults, Canvas Health also offers this service for adolescents and children.

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Danielle Eliasen, Program Administrator, at deliasen@canvashealth.org.

Photo credit: by Freepik

Expanding our Case Management Team

Canvas Health is pleased to welcome an amazing team of Adult Case Managers to our agency. With their help, we will be able to do more to assist adults with severe mental health needs in receiving mental health, social, educational, employment, and other necessary services. The goal of Adult Case Management is to help these […]

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Team Mission Moment! What brings a mission to life are the people who exemplify it every day. Canvas Health team mission members are dedicated to providing excellent clinical care and making a positive impact in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Our team is motivated by a shared mission to help others and make a difference in the diverse communities we serve.

Meet some of the dedicated individuals who bring our mission to life through their work in the clinic, on staff, or as volunteers. We are grateful for their service.

Team photos for Mission Moments
The Canvas Health team is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of our patients and the community. Here, our team members come together to exemplify our mission of providing excellent clinical care and making a positive impact in the community. We are proud of the work they do every day.

“I am so proud and grateful to walk alongside my clients’ journey of growth and healing. Their ability to remain resilient, hopeful, and driven despite difficult circumstances of mental illness, grief, and trauma is incredible and astonishing.” ~ Sydney Bartz, MSW, LGSW; Outpatient Psychotherapist Practitioner

Learn more about Canvas Health’s Outpatient Therapy for all ages

“As a practitioner at Canvas Health I have been trained to not only provide counseling for my clients, but to also empower them. By providing professional guidance and connecting them with the wide variety of services available throughout our agency, we equip our clients with the tools necessary for them to thrive.” ~ Nina Mattson, MA; Mobile Crisis Practitioner; Scott County Mobile Crisis Response Team

Learn more about Canvas Health’s Crisis Response Services

“As the youngest of eight siblings, I came to the United States as a refugee at the age of 11 years old. I am grateful for all the help I have received in my life. I joined the Board of Directors at Canvas Health because it allowed me to leverage my experience, both personally and professionally, to provide help to those in need, just as others have done for me.” ~ True Thao, MSW, True Thao Counseling Services, Canvas Health Board Member

Learn more about Canvas Health’s Board and Leadership

Canvas Health Mission Moment: Team Features

Team Mission Moment! What brings a mission to life are the people who exemplify it every day. Canvas Health team mission members are dedicated to providing excellent clinical care and making a positive impact in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Our team is motivated by a shared mission to help others and make a difference […]

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Communities across the Twin Cities, and across the country, are having conversations about how best to balance public safety with the needs of individuals in distress. More than merely talking about how police and social workers could work together, Canvas Health partnered with the Columbia Heights (Minnesota) Police Department to make it a reality. The Embedded Social Worker program teams law enforcement officers with social workers and mental health professionals to respond collaboratively when police are called.

Canvas Health Embedded Social Workers

Infographic Columbia Heights Embedded Social Work

 

Captain Erik Johnston of the Columbia Heights Police Department spoke about this partnership at our Valley Vine & Harvest Throwdown event in October.

“From the start, Canvas Health was an obvious partner for this program. Not only were they currently providing high-quality after-hours crisis response and support to our community, but they also quickly embraced the partnership and demonstrated the knowledge and passion to make a program like this work.

In the first 6 months of the program, 106 of 107 co-responses by social workers and police were resolved without the use of force. 103 of those situations were resolved without needing a transport hold.

During this same period, the social worker provided services to 183 clients and had nearly 800 interactions. Many of those contacts would previously have been handled by police. It has been clear to us that there is an unmet need for this type of service in our community. Additionally, both the officers and the mental health professionals are learning from each other and improving how we deliver our co-responder services to the community.”

 

Expanding the program to increase its impact

The goal is to expand this program to more police departments across the Greater Twin Cities area. In November, Canvas Health’s law enforcement embedded social workers, Eileen Crosby and Erin Buller, were proud to participate in the Criminal Justice Mental Health Summit hosted by Eckberg Lammers, P.C. Eileen and Erin worked directly with the Columbia Heights Police Department and participated in an “Embedded Social Workers in Police Departments” panel discussion with other agencies and social workers.

“I feel confident in saying at this point that our program has been a success, and that would not have been possible without the strong and generous support of Canvas Health, and my hope is for a long-lasting partnership going forward.” – Capt. Erik Johnston, Columbia Height Police Department

Success Story: Columbia Heights Embedded Social Worker Program

Communities across the Twin Cities, and across the country, are having conversations about how best to balance public safety with the needs of individuals in distress. More than merely talking about how police and social workers could work together, Canvas Health partnered with the Columbia Heights (Minnesota) Police Department to make it a reality. The […]

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What is the “holiday spirit?”
When you boil it all down, it’s two things: It’s love. It’s hope.

It’s about loving our families and working towards a better tomorrow, even when it’s hard. The holiday season can be tough, especially for those struggling with their health or trying to provide basic necessities. But it’s important to make space for joy and the holiday spirit, especially for families with children. By prioritizing health and wellbeing and refusing to give up, we can find hope and love in the midst of challenges.

Fill the Sled fundraiser raised over $7,000 for 30+ families and filled them with holiday spirit.That’s why Canvas Health hosts an annual Fill the Sled Fundraiser to provide a special holiday for their clients and their families. This year, thanks to the generosity of their staff and donors, they were able to raise over $7,000 and provide gift cards to 30+ families in need!

With those funds, we are able to provide gift cards to 30+ families in need. Families like the Wallaces* who are progressing through our Children’s Mental Health Case Management program:

“The Wallaces exemplify the meaning of family. In addition to their grown children and grandchildren, they have extended their care to their grandchildren’s friends believing it is better to have them at their house than on the streets. Despite financial, emotional, and physical challenges, they have never given up. They see a glass as half full not half empty.”

Our staff also wrote about Corrine* and Marielle*, two other Canvas Health clients whose stockings were filled this year.

“Corrine has fought an amazing battle with her addiction to Fentanyl. She sought safe housing through SHARE for her children so she could complete inpatient treatment, and is currently in IOP Substance Use Treatment. Corrine is a wonderful mother who is committed to her sobriety and recovery for a better life for herself and her children.”

Learn more about Substance Use Disorder Services and Housing Services

“Marielle has struggled with receiving adequate and appropriate state/county services to make ends meet, but has remained resilient, hopeful and determined. Though working with her therapist, she has fought through intense grief and loss that shows remarkable strength and resilience.”

Learn more about Outpatient Therapy and Care Coordination

As with everything Canvas Health does, Fill the Sled is inspired by the community we serve. Staff from all service areas nominated patients for this program and included some of their stories. Despite their challenges, what stands out the most to us is that holiday spirit of love and hope.

*Client names changed to protect privacy.

Fill the Sled, Make the Holidays Bright

What is the “holiday spirit?” When you boil it all down, it’s two things: It’s love. It’s hope. It’s about loving our families and working towards a better tomorrow, even when it’s hard. The holiday season can be tough, especially for those struggling with their health or trying to provide basic necessities. But it’s important […]

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