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State highlighting May as “Mental Health Awareness Month”

Reducing stigma and normalizing conversations about mental health concerns are keys to achieving better outcomes and well-being for individuals and families affected by poor mental health in South Dakota. That’s why Governor Kristi Noem has proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Whether stigma against mental illness is subtle or obvious, it is harmful,” said Department of Social Services (DSS) Cabinet Secretary Matt Althoff. “When we talk openly about our own mental health on a regular basis, it will encourage others to share stories of their struggles. This openness reduces stigma and serves as a therapeutic benefit to the mental health treatment persons might be receiving.”

Often, people avoid or delay seeking the treatment they need due to stigma and concerns about being treated differently. In turn, those mental health struggles can lead to more debilitating symptoms, even resulting in suicide. In 2021, 202 South Dakotans lost their lives to suicide. Sadly, suicide is the leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 29.

In July 2022, the Helpline Center in collaboration with the Department of Social Services launched the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline which offers a direct connection to 24/7 support for anyone experiencing a suicidal, substance use, and/or mental health crisis, or who need any other kind of emotional support. People can also call 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

“You are not alone,” said Althoff. “No matter what mental or emotional or addiction challenges you are experiencing, whether you are thinking about suicide or not, if you need someone to talk to for emotional support, call or text 988 or chat online at 988lifeline.org/chat with a trained crisis counselor.

It is important to know that 988 is not just for those who are in crisis, it is for anyone experiencing mental health related distress.”

For tips on how to talk about mental health visit https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk. Mental health matters and your local Community Mental Health Center is there to help. Don’t wait for a crisis to realize what matters most. For more information, visit https://dss.sd.gov/behavioralhealth/services.aspx. Services can be in-person or via telehealth and financial assistance is available.

Additional resources:
The Helpline Center: https://www.helplinecenter.org/9-8-8/ South Dakota Suicide Prevention: https://sdsuicideprevention.org/
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The South Dakota Department of Social Services is dedicated to strengthening families to foster health, wellbeing, and independence. For more information, please visit dss.sd.gov.


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In Touch 6/21/24

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