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Minnesota Behavioral Health Organizations Honored for Going Tobacco-Free

(October 30, 2018) -

For more information please contact:

James Martinez
[email protected]
(312) 445-2501

The Minnesota Association of Community Mental Health Programs (MACMHP) presented the 2018 MACMHP Program Innovation and Community Collaboration Award to Mental Health Resources, Avivo, Vail Place and People Incorporated last night for their recent work to become tobacco-free and offer tobacco treatment support.

The organizations were nominated by Blue Cross Blue Shield Center for Prevention and Mental Health Resources for their innovative efforts to implement a tobacco-free grounds policy into all of their programs and locations. This transition was done in collaboration with each other and the American Lung Association in Minnesota, who provided professional education, technical assistance and facilitation.

“Congratulations to the Avivo, Mental Health Resources, People Inc., and Vail Place communities on becoming commercial tobacco-free organizations. Your leadership and commitment to tobacco-free campuses and supporting staff and clients with services to quit tobacco use is at the forefront of this movement in Minnesota. We join with you in creating environments where everyone has access to clean air,” said Chris Matter, senior program manager, Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

The Program Innovation and Community Collaboration Award recognizes an organization who developed innovative ways to promote health and wellness and/or partnerships to overcome challenges to service delivery to improve the health of individuals recovering from mental illness and substance use disorder. The award was presented last night at the 2018 MARRCH President’s Award Reception at the MARRCH Annual Conference.

“It’s time to address tobacco in the work that we do, and it makes sense to do this together. We owe it to the people we serve and the people who work for us.  We encourage other organizations to make tobacco treatment and tobacco-free environments a high priority,” said Kathy Gregersen, executive director of Mental Health Resources.

“Our clients are targeted by tobacco and it creates disparity for the population that counts on us. Although we want to improve their lives, we also want to improve the lives of all of our staff, which is why this initiative is so important,” Jill Wiedemann-West, CEO of People Incorporated.

“Avivo is pleased to be a partner with American lung Association, Mental Health Resources and People Inc. in leading change in Minnesota to eliminate health disparities for individuals in our communities,” said Kelly Matter President and CEO of Avivo. “Tobacco is a social justice issue in addition to being a serious health hazard.  Together we are part of important work to increase health and recovery for people with mental illness and substance use disorders. Thank you to Blue Cross Blue Shield and MACMHP for encouraging our work with this special recognition.”

In total, the behavioral health organizations serve more than 40,000 people with mental illness and/or substance-use disorders in Minnesota. While tobacco use has often been viewed by some in mental health and substance-use treatment as a low priority and even as a potential coping mechanism, it is the number one cause of death and disease among those with mental illness. An analysis of 26 studies showed improved mental health with quitting smoking and found that anxiety, depression, mixed anxiety and depression, and stress significantly decreased among those who quit smoking compared with those who continued smoking. People in treatment for substance used disorders who also receive tobacco treatment are 25 percent more successful in long-term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.

Avivo (formerly RESOURCE)
Avivo serves more than 18,000 Minnesotans each year, helping them achieve recovery, employment, and economic advancement. Founded in 1960, Avivo provides chemical and mental health services, career education, and employment services. We specialize in helping individuals and families who face personal or systemic barriers – poverty, homelessness, joblessness, chemical addiction or mental health concerns – achieve recovery and economic stability. We believe everyone deserves the chance to live well and work well. For more information, visit

Mental Health Resources
Mental Health Resources is one of Minnesota’s largest nonprofit organizations, with more than 40 years fostering hope, health, and recovery with individuals with serious mental illness. We provide innovative, recovery-based, behavioral health services with measurable outcomes improving the lives of those affected by mental illness. Over the last 4 years, we have invested in agency-wide culture changes to better meet the health and wellness needs of adults living in the community with mental illness. This has included initiatives addressing tobacco, nutrition, physical activity, and dental care. More information is available at

People Incorporated
As the Twin Cities’ largest community-based provider of mental health services, People Incorporated is a nonprofit that’s passionate about helping the most vulnerable members of our community find hope through integrated mental health care. Whether it’s addressing chronic mental illness, providing crisis intervention or eliminating external barriers – such as identifying stable housing or treating chemical dependency – improving access to mental health and wellness services is vital to improving lives and livelihoods throughout the Twin Cities. Follow People Incorporated on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for the latest news.

Vail Place
Vail Place’s mission is to cultivate hope and inspire change to bring mental health recovery.   Vail Place is a community resources and has been providing whole health services to people with mental illnesses since 1981 including Clubhouse community support services, Case Management, Behavioral Health Home, navigation, housing, and employment services. They are an Accountable Care Partner with North Memorial Health’s Integrated Health Partnership and work with a variety of community partners to assist people with serious mental illnesses work toward self-sufficiency by providing comprehensive, integrated services, supports, and resources.


About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

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