Month: April 2021

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service Conversation about Mental Health Training: TRANSCRIPT

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This is a transcript of a conversation with mental health leaders from around the state of South Dakota discussing training opportunities for those who wish to make a difference in the lives of others by learning how to respond to others’ mental health needs. In the conversation are Sheri Nelson, Helpline Center; Michelle Majors of the Southeastern Prevention Resource Center of Volunteers of America-Dakotas; and Tifanie Petro of the Children’s Home Child Advocacy Center. It held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and was moderated by Erik Muckey.

Here are links to some of the trainings discussed:

 This transcript has been auto-generated, so there might be some transcription errors. 


Erik Muckey  00:02

Good morning, everybody, and Happy Martin Luther King Day. My name is Eric Muckey. I am the CEO and executive director of Lost&Found. We are a Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based nonprofit that facilitates comprehensive, data-driven suicide prevention strategies for young adults 15 to 34. Our work primarily focuses on college campuses in K-12 institutions. But I would say today, our focus today is really less on our work individually as an organization, but the work that we need as communities to improve mental health, especially as we’re navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.  And so today, I’m joined by a few of my friends and colleagues in the Sioux Falls area to kind of share a little bit about what is needed in the world of mental health and sort of how we can all individually contribute to that effort through a series of trainings. So what I’ll do today, I really want to, first and foremost, introduce our panelists. They’re fantastic people, they’re fantastic members of our community and you really should get to know them. It’s your especially getting to know the mental health space in South Dakota in particular, so I’ll kind of go down the line and start first with Michelle Majors, from Volunteers of America Dakotas. Michelle, can you quick introduce yourself and your organization, I’ll quick move over to you.


 Michelle Majors  01:36

 So my name is Michelle Majors. I am a certified prevention specialist. I work at the Southeastern Prevention Resource Center at Volunteers of America-Dakotas and Sioux Falls. So the Southeastern Prevention Resource Center serves the 21 most southeastern counties of the state and have a chance to tell you a little bit more about that as we go over the next hour. So welcome, glad everybody’s here.


Erik Muckey  01:59

 Thanks, Michelle. I’ll move then, on to Sheri Nelson at the Helpline Center. Sheri, can you introduce herself and the work the Helpline Center?


 Sheri Nelson  02:10

 Hi, my name is Sheri Nelson. I am the Suicide Prevention Director at the Helpline Center. We work with people who are struggling with suicide and mental illness. We answer the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number for the state of South Dakota. We also do a lot of different prevention work and also work with survivors who have lost loved ones to suicide.


 Erik Muckey  02:44

 Awesome. I’ll move on here. Thanks for for joining us this morning, Sheri. Tifanie, I’ll move on to you, Tifanie Petro, Children’s Home Society, South Dakota, Tifanie, want to introduce yourself in the work that you do?


Tifanie Petro  02:57

 Yeah, thank you for the invitation to be here. I’m the director for the Children’s Home Child Advocacy Center, which is actually located in Rapid City. And it’s a program of our larger work here at Children’s Home Society. And embedded in that Child Advocacy Center is our statewide prevention initiative, which includes programming such as ACES. But we’ll dive into that in a little bit. And so grateful to be part of this conversation this morning.


 Erik Muckey  03:25

 Wonderful. Thank you, Tifanie. So really the impetus for this conversation. And really why we’re here today is as you all know, of course, you’re not just the ads and the advertising for this event, but through probably what you’ve been seeing on your phone today today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Martin Luther King Day of Service. And when we think about sort of what the needs are in our communities in South Dakota, Minnesota, North Dakota beyond right now, one of the biggest challenges we see especially the COVID-19 pandemic is mental health, and how we can be supportive of that. And I what I want to kind of start with at least is kind of get perspectives from all three of you to share sort of what you see in terms of challenges for mental health for for young adults, but really, broadly speaking, what your organization is seeing in the space, and then kind of going from there. We can chat a little bit more about how we can all you know, be a part of that and be part of solution for that. But on a day like today, we’re really talking about community service. And today might not be necessarily getting out into the world and getting out and doing a service activity necessarily, but finding ways that we can actually get back in the mental health field as individuals as lay people.  So I’ll start this one. I’m going to go back in the opposite order. Tifanie, as you’re thinking about mental health in our communities, especially the community that you work with, what are the biggest challenges right now?


 Tifanie Petro  04:56

 Yeah, that is a great question and where do we start on that topic? I think it’s pretty expansive. Tthe immediate need as a result of COVID-19 are those ongoing traumas, immediate kind of crisis intervention, that’s certainly something that’s not isolated to the western half of the state at all. And beyond that, what we find as a conversation point, or as a point of where we can dive deeper, in our connection with others, is the lack of understanding the quick to judge. We find ourselves as as normal human beings, and we’re in our own space, and we’re frustrated, and maybe we’re having all of the complications that go along with the national, international pandemic, and civil unrest and social issues all around us. And we are quick to ask, you know, why are you doing that? Why, why is that what’s happening? Why do they, you know, and we go quickly, kind of into that judgment space, or that blaming space. And the conversation really has to or has been trying to pivot more to asking the question about what happened to you, how did we get here?  And so while our initial gut reaction might be to make some assumptions, or have, you know, maybe a limited scope of what’s going on, we do see those that are staying curious and wanting to help others and starting to want to understand the why–how did we get here? How do we, how do we connect? How do we be kind? And so and that’s just, of course, the tip of this iceberg. But that’s what we’re really seeing on our end.


 Erik Muckey  06:58

 Thank you so much for sharing that, Tifanie. And for folks. First and foremost, before we get too far along, if you want to get to know, some of these organizations, I’ll put banners up for ways to get in touch with them. So use the link below to get in touch with Children’s Home Society, South Dakota, and the prevention training that Tifanie leads. But obviously, they’re going to move forward, of course, we’ll talk about what some of those options will work, probably.  And so moving on from there, Sheri, lots of challenges I’ve seen and heard from the Helpline Center this year, can you kind of enlighten us a little bit about what you’re seeing in the community and some of the challenges we’re facing?


Sheri Nelson  07:38

 Sure, absolutely. This has been an extremely difficult year for everyone with the pandemic. So we are seeing a lot of people struggling and needing that additional support. And it’s those people who may have not struggled in the past. And now they’re dealing with stress and fear and anxiety about kind of the unknown. And what will happen next, I think with people who are dealing with these issues, and we are seeing definitely an increase in phone calls to the Helpline Center, just people needing that listening and support. And so people can connect with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and talk with someone a professional, especially if they are dealing with COVID-19 and just need that additional support. We can also connect them with mental health counseling as well.  But I think it’s not only we are seeing this in all aspects with, with students struggling with, you know, going from in-person to online learning back to in-person. And I think also that sense of isolation that people are feeling. You know, since the pandemic started, you know, reaching out and helping them to connect in some way is going to be very important as we continue to work our way through this pandemic.


Erik Muckey  09:35


Thanks, Sheri. I’m, as I’m thinking also here to Michelle, what are your What are you saying what, what what changes or shifts have you seen because of COVID? What are some of the trends that you’re seeing in your organization and how are you looking to address those?




Michelle Majors  10:01


Thank you. So for Volunteers of America-Dakotas as a whole, even prior to COVID, we were there transitioning more to the telehealth services. So once COVID hit, they were really able to kind of hit the ground running with that and provide a lot of services through telehealth, which I think has been a blessing because, obviously, people, you know, being isolated, they can still connect with people. We have a lot of rural communities in our state. So really beefing up that telehealth services is a great way to reach out to people. I think they have found that some people maybe will continue with that way of service because they they like it better to be on telehealth services. So I think it’s going to be a mix of both–we’ll see telehealth services always be around. And we’ll also see, you know, face to face for other folks. But that has been one area that has really been a blessing.  We’ve obviously had challenges, just with providing training to schools and within the communities just because of the Covid 19 pandemic. But really seeing that people we’ve been blessed that a lot of the trainings that we offer are being available through through Zoom and different platforms. I think some of these strains are ideal face-to-face, but again, feeling blessed that we can offer those to people. And I think people are really wanting to help they want the information, they want to know how to to reach out to people. As Sheri said, you know that isolation is such a risk factor when it comes to mental health and substance use. And so the more we can get people connected, whether it’s virtually or in-person, is great, because isolation of we sit with our own thoughts can be dangerous for any of us, right. So really getting people connected, I think is so important.  I think another reason why we’re seeing challenges, even before COVID is the stigma around mental health. And having these conversations like today really brings to light that conversation that we need to have to reduce that stigma around mental health and substance use disorders and allow people to talk about it and feel safe talking about it. And then you know, they’ll feel safe to get help. And we’re really going to be able to move the needle on this and get people to feel comfortable getting the help that they need.




Erik Muckey  12:27


Thanks for that, Michelle, I think that is about as good of a segue as you could possibly throw in in this case. And really again, you know, for the folks watching right now or in the days ahead, really the whole purpose of this conversation and this recording as you’re watching this is to really give you a sense of the need and how we can actually get involved. And I think Michelle, you said it perfectly. That, you know, isolation is a major issue right now if there’s a way for us to get you connected to resources that will help you individually or be able to offer help, which is really why we’re here. This is really an interesting time for us as a field to come to bear with this and figure out how do we make training accessible.  So really, the focus today, if you’re watching is really about how I can be involved, to make our communities better, make our communities more mentally healthy, more resilient, and whatever choice of words you’d like to look at here. And really what that looks like, at least from our purposes today is training. There’s a plethora of training available in South Dakota and Minnesota, North Dakota, whatever state or region you’re in. It just happened to be today, we have three leaders in the State of South Dakota, who can tell you about different trainings that are available in our state. And many of these are translatable to other locations. So really what I wanted to talk about now or transition to now and just give our panelists a chance to share the training opportunities that are available through their organization and how you can get access to those.  And so I’ll start off with Sheri this time. Sheri, tell us a little bit about the training that’s offered by Helpline and sort of what the how that might help somebody to help somebody in their in their family and their friend, group, peer group, whatever that looks like.




Sheri Nelson  14:15


Yes, absolutely. We have several different trainings that are available at the helpline center, those trainings that we do specifically online right now. And I think it’s a blessing that we are able to do these trainings online. That is we do Mental Health First Aid, and Youth Mental Health First Aid, and QPR and of course, Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid looks at those specific mental illnesses that people may be starting to develop or maybe in crisis and how people can look at those warning signs and recognize those warning signs and be able to reach out in help.  Of course, those trainings are also offered in person, when we’re able to. We also do several other trainings, such as ASIST, that is, ASIST is Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, and that is not offered online right now, that’s a two day training. And the model really teaches effective intervention skills, while people also build prevention networks, within the community as well.  And so, um, you know, I think it’s just really important that people are able to break through that stigma, openly talk about mental illness, because that then gives those people who are struggling, knowing that you’re able to talk about it, knowing that it’s, it’s okay to talk about it. And I love that we’re doing this today. You know, mental illness is actually very common, and I think a lot more common than what people may realize. And so, and especially now, with a pandemic, we’re seeing a lot more people who are struggling. And so I think it’s just really important for everyone to be able to recognize those warning signs and to help people. So we are getting actually a lot of requests from different agencies and community members wanting to know those skills and wanting to do suicide prevention, training, mental health training. And with that mental health training, we’re also looking at substance use disorders and how to help people in those areas as well. And so I think it’s good that people are reaching out knowing that they may come into contact with someone who’s dealing with a mental illness or a mental health crisis. So I’ll, I’ll let Michelle or whoever goes next. But, you know, it’s just really important that people are aware of these things and are able to recognize someone who is dealing with a mental illness and recognizing that mental illness is not the person, the person is dealing and struggling with a mental illness. So that’s something that we also teach, as well, as we’re doing trainings. And I’m sure Tifanie and Michelle will talk more about that.




Erik Muckey  18:06


Now, thanks for sharing that, Sheri. And I do want to highlight before we transition too far down the line, I was sharing a link throughout, if you’re looking for information on the Helpline Center as an organization, you can just go straight to the They also have a pair of trainings that are upcoming. And so as you’re hearing Sheri talk about Mental Health First Aid training, which was one of the, in my belief, anyway, personally one of the better trainings, you can jump into to kind of get yourself started with sort of peer intervention training, there’s a couple other offering, one is towards the end of February. So looking to sign up for Mental Health First Aid virtually, you can use this link now to get yourself registered. And there’s a use version, of Mental Health First Aid available as well. That’ll be available in mid March. And so if you’re looking to get signed up or registered for that virtual event open to anybody, you can sign up here as well.  And so I do want to kind of get your point Sheri, I think there’s a lot of a lot of sharing that we can all have as as you know, different organizations in the field here. I’ll transition over to Michelle. Michelle, tell us a little bit about, you know, the training that you’re offering, what’s available and sort of how folks might be able to get access to it.




Michelle Majors  19:25


We offer a lot of the same trainings that the Helpline Center does in regards to mental health and suicide prevention. In fact, there’s several people across the state that are trained in these. And so, while we’re offering them virtually, you know, you can really take them from any one of us, which is kind of a blessing. I love the not having to travel piece right now.  There are people across the state that are trained in Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid. As Sheri said, those are day-long trainings. Right now being virtual, you do a couple hours of pre work and then it kind of shortens that day to do the virtual piece. But I love those trainings, as Erik said, because it’s that first look for us as lay people to really start to recognize those warning signs and symptoms that a person might be experiencing a mental health issue or crisis and then how to get them, you know, have that conversation with them through some steps and then how to get them referred on to help.  And so that Youth Mental Health First Aid is for adults who work with youth. The Mental Health First Aid is obviously for adults who work with adults. There is also a Teen Mental Health First Aid, it hasn’t come to our state yet. I really hope it does. And that some in classroom training for teens as well, but these ones are for adults. QPR is another one that we offer, just as Sheri does as well–Question, Persuade, Refer.  That’s about a one-hour training that, you know, goes over how to ask the question about suicide, how to persuade someone to get help, and then how to get them referred on.  ASIST is another one that we that we do, as Sheri mentioned, the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, really hope we can start getting back to doing some face to face in the coming months here. So we can start providing that again, as well.  A couple other trainings that we offer in regards to substance use: There’s one called Opioid Public Health Crisis, it’s a one hour training, and we can do that virtually, that just explains to people about the crisis with the opioid epidemic that we’ve seen, and then what we can do about it, you know, locking up our prescriptions, all sorts of things.  And then we have an on call, this is not about drugs, we have full funding for that through SDSU Extension. And so often, many of these trainings can be provided at no costs are free, which is, which is great.  The other trainings that I mentioned, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Mental Health First Aid, ASIST, I don’t have one necessarily set, but you can go to the website, and you can request training through that. And that goes to the DSS office. Based on that request and what community it’s in, then they go ahead and put out that request to the people in that community. So maybe it’s Rapid City, they’re going to reach out to trainers around the city to see if they can provide that training. Watertown, Sioux Falls, all over the state.  And so that’s a blessing that we do have some funding right now to provide those trainings.  One other one I’d like to mention that I don’t offer, but I just want to mention NAMI. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And they do a couple of programs. One of them called the Ending the Silence, which is also a free training that’s offered for, for teens. They have some adult training. They have support groups are just another great resource that’s available in our state.  And as Erik said, I would just mention a lot of the trainings that Sheri and I have mentioned, like Mental Health First Aid, Youth Mental Health First Aid, there’s trainers all across the country. So again, if you are in Minnesota, Minnesota, Nebraska, wherever you might be, I’m sure you have several trainers in your state to do those trainings as well.




Erik Muckey  23:05


Thank you so much for that. Michelle, I’m glad you mentioned, you know, so much of the training that is offered in our state and by the folks here on the line and the folks that are not here with us. But we can only put so many people and do a livestream at the same time. There are a lot of really great trainings available in South Dakota that are available nationwide. And so if you have any questions about those, feel free to contact any of our organizations. If you’re looking to contact Lost&Found in particular knowing we do work across state lines, you can simply go to our website, we have a contact form you can reach out to us at any time. Or you can just message us here on Facebook @resilienttoday is our handle. We are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tik Tok, you name it social media handle, we’re probably on it. No one wants to see our Tik Tok videos yet kidding we’re working on. I’ll transition over cuz I know, Tifanie’s got an interesting perspective to share here too. And another training that’s available to folks in South Dakota but also around the country. And so, Tifanie, I’ll hand over to you tell us a little bit more about ACES and why it’s important and useful for this particular topic.




Tifanie Petro  24:20


Absolutely. So anyone who’s not familiar with ACES, it’s the Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences Training. This is actually a statewide prevention initiatives that we partner with the Center for Prevention of Child maltreatment, as well as our partners at the state that help ensure that we can continue to train on this information. And when I hear about the fabulous trainings that are going on, like Michelle and Sheri have shared, ACES to me is that foundational piece. You know, at Children’s Home Society, we really have a platform of from parent to professional. We want to make sure that we’re not just speaking to professionals. But we’re also speaking to individuals with lived experience. And something that is fantastic about the ACES is it’s approachable. You can talk to kids about trauma, you can talk to adults about trauma. And when we go into these spaces across South Dakota–we’ve trained over 15,000 individuals across the state in just three years, it’s just amazing, so proud of South Dakota, and our partners for doing that work–but it’s really an opportunity to start to create a shared language and understanding. It starts to help us see more of ourselves in others, and create that connection. As Sheri said it, Michelle said, and I can’t stress that enough.  And so ACES is an overview about how trauma in those formative years, obviously, Children’s Home Society is passionate about helping children and families, but also communities as a whole. And so when we can start to understand the science behind how behaviors and coping issues like attempts with suicide or substance use, we start to connect the dots about not only how can we respond in a better way, how can we be the champions in our own communities to create resilience and healthy children and adults for tomorrow, but also where could we have intervened sooner? It helps us also be reflective and so that we can start to shift or craft systems that are better able to respond or intervene and prevent these adverse childhood experiences from even from ever happening.  So when COVID hit, Children’s Home Society made a complete 180 and went online with our prevention efforts. However, we’ve since been back in the theoretical classroom when it’s safe to do so. And because we have support from state agencies, and donors through Children’s Home Society, of course, grant opportunities, anybody can get a free training on ACEs, whether it’s Zoom, or it’s in person. And we do that for not just professionals that call us in but also in parenting classes and as well as community and community wide, which now thanks to Zoom can truly be a community wide and isn’t limited to one geographic area. So we’re really grateful that we’re able to do that in that space.  And often what happens when somebody comes to an ACEs training is then they go, Okay, this is something I’m passionate about. Now, I’m going to go to VOA or I’m going to go to the Helpline, and I’m going to dive in deeper to suicide prevention, or I want to know more about substance use. And so it’s kind of that foundational starting point where people can get passionate about, here’s where I can show up, here’s where I have something I can offer others, but also being reflective on themselves and saying, you know, where can I stay curious? How can I take care of myself? How can I balance my own mental health, my own health and mental health and self care? And then from that, we’re able to then maybe do a dive a deeper dive into ACEs. Because all of these can be tailored, specific to not only the group taking them, but also just kind of the context around how do we apply this? Where do we go from here? And so it’s, it’s really a functional way to start a really important conversation.




Erik Muckey  28:51


Perfect, thank you so much, Tifanie, for sharing that. Like I said, the beauty of these training opportunities that are available for all of us to take part in and really make a difference in our community. These aren’t just available in South Dakota, they’re available around the country. And so if you want to learn more about ACEs, and how that is being delivered by Children’s Home Society and the Center for Prevention of Child Maltreatment in South Dakota, use this link and you’re able to go see their events, they keep them updated. I know I can appreciate that kind of effort Tifanie to really make sure that everything’s available online, and people can can make sure that they can attend virtually. So thank you for doing that it’s really need in our community.  One thing I’ll kind of share as far as Lost&Found, training goes at this point, you can consider a sort of a facilitator if you will, to make sure you’re getting access to these three organizations and other organizations around the state of South Dakota and so I really appreciated you Michelle sharing that link. If you’re looking to request training in the State of South Dakota, this is probably one of the best one-stop shops you can find because there’s a variety of providers and a variety of individuals who are not just providing, you know, Mental Health First Aid, ASIST, and so on. But they might be able to help you get connected to organizations who are in the work day to day, and might be able to help you find additional resources that you may not have planned for otherwise. And so if you’re looking for training in South Dakota, this is probably one of the best ways to get access to it. And you can find this link in the chat. If you’re looking to, you know, get on it today and register now. Lost&Found has transitioned a little bit in terms of our, our offerings in that we are now offering a very light-scale training called EARS. Engage, Attend, Reinforce and Seek. It’s a adage of a previous trainings kind of all built into one to really give people really basic understanding of how to help somebody, no matter how large or small challenges in their life, to be able to engage them in conversation and begin the cycle of care, attend to their needs, through active listening. And really deepening communication and understanding by simply being present, reinforcing positive momentum in a person’s life and the positive things they’re doing to seek help, and then seek so help them navigate the next stages. And not only that, but continue to reengage them in conversation and follow up. So that is a new training that Lost&Found will begin offering later this spring. I’ll share more information here. As we get to the end of the session. The other opportunity I want to share with folks who are listening in: Lost&Found is also began developing a peer advising framework that right now is primarily geared towards college, college campuses. But it also can be adapted as you see fit for K-12 institutions and potentially your place of employment.  So if you’re looking to get in touch with us on that specific opportunity as it’s being developed, again, you can simply contact us here on Facebook, @resilienttoday. You can also go to our website and learn more at  So thinking about where we are now, obviously, we’ve shared a few different training opportunities, and we’re trying to kind of direct people to the right place at the right time. I’m really curious from each of you, as we’re closing out today. What do you think are the best ways that we can get involved as individuals? Obviously, training is one we just talked about, but how can we help people who are struggling with their mental health? Maybe struggling with the circumstances of their life right now? Or maybe struggling with suicide ideation? I’m curious from each of you. And I’ll start this one, this time with Tifanie. What are your thoughts on that? What are the best ways that we can help each other?




Tifanie Petro  32:46


Yeah, that’s a great, that’s another great question, Erik, you’re just really bringing all the great questions today. Fundamentally, it is about that connection we’ve shared that are certainly something that we’re passionate here at Children’s Home Society about this idea of feedback loops, in terms of how can I show up in a consistent and meaningful way, for people I care about?  We get that things are overwhelming. And maybe taking a class is just you don’t have the emotional bandwidth for it right now. Or it’s just not in the cards for your timing or your schedule. Connection doesn’t cost us anything, when we can start to ask those questions about, you know, hey, you seem a little upset. Do you need somebody to listen? Right? When we start to be aware of what is going on outside of our own bubble, I think that you’d be amazed about how many little moments you can take to connect, right? Whether it’s a smile to somebody above your mask, right? Or if it’s just saying, Hey, I was thinking about you today and just sending a little reminder text. When we start to pay attention and kind of show up in even just the smallest way we can start to create positive experiences for other people. And sometimes that can really make the difference not only for them, but for ourselves.  There is a lot of research to talk about this science of hope, when we feel like we can contribute to other people. When we feel like we matter we have that self efficacy. It kind of pulls us out of our own space. And when we offer help, it can also be an opportunity for us to ask for help and that creation of that safe space or that trusted space with another person can really turn into into those moments that can really define us or change our trajectory, trajectory even.




Erik Muckey  34:50


Thank you for that, Tifanie. That’s fantastic perspective. I love I love your line. You know, connection doesn’t cost a thing. It’s It’s so important right now.  Michelle, what are your thoughts? What what are some of the ways you see folks should, can and should be getting involved to make community, you know, community mental health a priority right now?




Michelle Majors  35:10


Where do I start? I get so passionate about this piece. I’m so excited. I’m so cut me off if I get too long winded. But, you know, I feel like a very simple thing that we talk a lot about in all of our trainings where we can start is by using person first language. And so instead of saying a person is bipolar, they’re a person who lives with bipolar, or a person is an alcoholic, it’s a person who lives with addiction. They’re a person first. It shouldn’t define who they are, it’s a piece of who they are. And so just by changing that person, first language, we can really start–that’s just a small way we can all be a piece to the pie here.  Reducing stigma. By using that person first language, we’re reducing that stigma. And I wholeheartedly that if we can reduce stigma around substance use and mental health issues that will save lives, because people will feel like they’re not the only ones feeling this because as Sheri said, it’s very common. We know one in five people live with a mental health disorder. So helping people to know that it’s okay to talk about it. It’s just like, if I had diabetes, and I would talk to someone about taking my insulin, I’m talking to someone that I live with bipolar disorder, and this is how I take care of that, for example. We need to be willing to talk about it, just being able to talk about it, have those conversations. I’m a mom of four boys, I have these conversations with my boys a lot, you know, letting them know that mental health is prominent in our family. So having those conversations that need they, they can come to mom and dad to talk about these things, whether it’s suicide or any mental health issue they might be going through.  We can be that nonjudgmental listening ear. Really kind of what Stephanie said, just little small acts of kindness that we can be doing. And they don’t need someone to fix their problems. But we all need someone who is willing to listen to us non judgmentally. Encouraging that self care is so vital right now, self care is such an important piece when it comes to mental health. And so making sure people are doing things for self care and taking care of themselves more now than ever is so important.  And being a support to the family and friends. People who struggle with mental health disorders or substance use disorders can be they’re going through a lot of challenging things. And it can be very tough for the family and hard for them to understand. So being and I’m saying being a support to them, like, you know, if we’ve got people in our community that are that diagnosed with cancer, the first thing we do is start our meal train, right. And we all bring casseroles so the family we call them we you know, what can we do for you? When people have with mental health issues, for some reason, we kind of have a tendency to turn the other way. We need to be just as supportive those families as we are for those that have physical illnesses. Start the meal train, call them, ask how you can help them be that support, help them you know, see how you can help them out. The more we can make that that realization that a mental illness is just like any other physical illness. Again, we’re gonna save lives because we’re going to help people see that that’s okay. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s not okay not to get help. Right. And so just being willing to know that and seek out that help and be supportive of both those living with it and their family members.




Erik Muckey  38:37


Thank you for that. I can’t say I’ve seen a meal train in a little while I’m thinking of that might be a great thing to get myself on today. I’m kidding. I’m not gonna train But no, thank you for that perspective, Michelle. I think I there’s a quote that we pulled from you that I think would be fantastic for anybody to follow, which is use person-first language and trying to separate their disease from the individual. That’s, we really need to hear that right now.  Sheri, bring us home here. What what are your thoughts? And how can we get involved, especially from an organization like Helpline that is so far reaching and so widely helping people in a lot of different ways?




Sheri Nelson  39:18


Yes, absolutely. 211 is statewide. And so if anyone needs that help needs that support, they can just simply dial 211 but I think both Michelle and Tifanie did a great job with you know, talking about that stigma and I think that the more that we are able to openly talk about mental illness, addiction, and suicide, the better off that people who are struggling, they know that it’s okay to reach out for help.  And as Michelle and Tifanie said, people who are struggling, they need that love, they need that support. Far too many times, I’ve seen families who aren’t there to help to support their family members who are struggling. And I think a lot of that comes from not understanding what mental illness is. And so the more that we can educate people, reach out, get those, get the trainings, go, you know, as Michelle was talking about, there’s many different trainings across the state, and many people that are doing it, but listening to our friends, our loved ones, in understanding that struggle that they are going through. They are dealing with a lot of inner struggles. And just simply being there and being a friend to them.  At the Helpline Center, we have a lot of different resources throughout the state of South Dakota, where we can connect you. And to get that help that you need. We also get people who contact us what we call our third-party callers, who are a family member or a friend who is needing that support and learning how to help their loved one. And we get a lot of people that call in and and we can help them in that way as well. So if you are struggling with, you know, how do I help my family member? How do I help my friend? Contact us and we will help you, we will give you resources to help you.  And one other thing I do want to bring up, Erik, Michelle talked about Teen Mental Health First Aid. Actually, I am a trainer in Teen Mental Health First Aid. And what that is teaching teens 10th through 12th grade, teaching teens to help their peers. So we know that teenagers, college students will most often go to their peers before they’re going to go to an adult. So it’s teaching those teens, their warning signs and the next steps that they can take to help that person and bringing them to an adult to then continue to help that person. So I did want to bring that up. We are partnered partnering with high school, and we will be doing that Teen Mental Health First Aid this spring, and hopefully soon as soon as it’s safe for everyone.




Erik Muckey  43:01


Perfect. Thank you for sharing that, Sheri. And thank you so much also for really making it clear, you know, we really need to be able to not just talk to each other, but also be able to make sure that we’re getting support and help we need as individuals as well thank you for, for making that clear.  I see some really great comments here. And I, I feel we need to share this one first and foremost, because I think if you’re in the field that might be difficult to know, sometimes that what we’re doing really is important. And I think this comment really says it all I know, I wish I could get together with all of you weekly, but I really appreciate your time. And I know the folks that are listening in today really appreciate your time as well.  I thought there’s also a really good question here. And thank you for sharing this Kaija, you know, the idea that one of the biggest concerns that we might see is that people are afraid if they reach out, they’ll cause a crisis. Anybody can jump in here, you know, what are your thoughts on this? Why is this something that we should be thinking about? And how to how do we actually go about addressing this?




Sheri Nelson  44:05


I can jump in. One thing that we teach during or trainings is that this kind of goes back again to the stigma piece. And so there is this misunderstanding that if we are to talk about mental illness or to talk about suicide, that we will make that person attempt suicide. This is simply not true. The more in generally when we talk about this, the more open that that person will be and more responsive to you. I look at it this way and I do share this with people that we train. If you were going to talk to your teenager about using drugs and alcohol or not using drugs and alcohol, being safe or about sex, does that mean that your child is going to go out and start using or go out and immediately have sex? No, we are not planting that idea into their head. You will be met with, you know, openness, and then willingness to talk about mental illness and suicide and what’s really going on with them.




Erik Muckey  45:28


Thanks for sharing that. That’s fantastic perspective on that question. Any thoughts Michelle, or Tifanie, to add to that?




Michelle Majors  45:38


I thought that was a perfect answer. Sheri. It was great. The one thing I wasn’t sure if she was asking, like, if I’m experiencing a mental health issue, I might be afraid to reach out for help and cause a crisis. Or if it was opposite, how Sheri addressed it, which was perfect. if it’s the opposite, if it’s that way, you know, like, I’m afraid to reach out sometimes we do see that because people are Oh, and our youth, one offers a training that we taught the older version. You know, we talked about how people were afraid that Kevin Hines who’s a survivor jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge he talks about, I was afraid that, you know, if I told people what I was experiencing, that they would lock me up and throw away the key. So sometimes there’s some misperceptions out there about what’s going to happen if we do talk about it. Hospitalization, of course, is always a possibility for somebody who might need it. But there’s so many other options out there as well. So just wanted to address it from both sides. That, you know, again, just I’ll share is that if we talk about it more, reducing that stigma, and just knowing that that’s not going to cause a crisis by talking about it.




Erik Muckey  46:51


Thanks for sharing that. That’s, again, I feel like we could sit here for hours, you probably solve the world’s problems in terms of mental health pretty quickly if we’re able to do this all the time. But thank you for thank you for sharing that. Michelle. We wanted to hear your Sheri’s perspectives on this, Tifanie, anything else to add? They’re




Tifanie Petro  47:09


I couldn’t say it better than the ladies did so.




Erik Muckey  47:13


Well, I agree. Well, I know we’re running up here almost to the top of the hour again. I’ll just kind of throw this out as sort of a last thing here. We’ll we’ll walk through ways for folks to get in contact with you. Ways to kind of make sure that they’re getting access to training because right now, this is one of the most important things we can do as community members. But is there anything else you want to add from from your organization’s from your perspective? What else should we know?






Think? Oh, I’m sorry.






Go ahead. Sorry.




Sheri Nelson  47:56


I’m sorry. Um, I think just people understanding again, that mental illness is common. And that just because we’re talking about it doesn’t make it happen. That’s the opposite. But if you want to help other people, get educated more about those warning signs. But I think the main thing is, is don’t shy away from someone who is struggling with a mental illness, even if you don’t know those next steps to take. Simply being there, being human, being a friend and listening to them, that’s going to give them hope. And we know that you know, just by talking with someone and getting things out that they’re struggling with, that that right there can provide some hope, and hope is very important.  And then of course, from Helpline Center perspective, obviously, anyone who is in need of resources, information or just listening and support or if you’re really struggling, we are always here 24-7. So feel free to connect with us, either by dialing 211 or if you are in a crisis or dealing with suicide, thinking about suicide, you can contact 1-800-273-8255.




Erik Muckey  49:41


Fantastic. Thank you so much Sheri, for for sharing and for those of you who again watching online. If you’d like to sign up for any training from the Helpline Center, they do have a couple upcoming one as a Mental Health First Aid virtual training on the 25th of February. Feel free to sign up here or for their Youth Mental Health First Aid training available on March 11. These links are available in the comments if you’re looking for them. And we’ll talk a little bit more in a second about other ways you can get access to these trainings. But I do want to make sure I’m giving folks a chance to share anything else, Michelle, anything to add, perspective or things we should be thinking about, as we’re going away?




Michelle Majors  50:22


I will piggyback one thing that Sheri says, I will tell you, every single training I do, I am always referencing people to the 1-800-273-TALK to one one or the texting 898211. Because it’s that 24-7 number. You know, we can be resource these folks. But if it’s 3am, and they don’t know who to talk to, they’re there.  Or if you are just even though you’ve gone through training, and you’re still just really stuck, like all of a sudden a friend has come to you and they tell you they’re having thoughts of suicide and you’re kind of scared you don’t know what to do, call 1-800-273-TALK number, they can talk you through that, you know, and talk through next steps.  So I think that’s that good 365 a day your resource that everybody needs to know and having their phone. And I couldn’t encourage that enough.  Just wanted to reiterate that there are we have a resource center, there’s three Prevention Resource Centers in the state one in Rapid City, Youth and Family Services, one on Watertown and Sioux Falls, that we do have resources available for free–print materials, resources, you can check out there’s Coalition’s across the state 21 Coalition’s that do substance use and mental health. So if you’re wanting to get active in your community, reach out to us reach out to Erik, there’s opportunities there, they’d love for you to be on board and be a part of what they’re doing. And the last thing I would say is, I’ve I’ve done ACEs training, the adverse childhood experiences training Tifanie’s talking about and I just can’t speak enough to that training. I love learning about ACEs and that piece. And so if you haven’t gone through that, I would highly suggest you doing it because I definitely saw is a great starting point, I really think it just kind of opens the door opens people’s eyes to what they’ve experienced what other people are experiencing and how we can help.




Erik Muckey  52:09


that’s a piggyback there, Michelle. Anything, Tifanie, to add?




Tifanie Petro  52:14


Yeah, Michelle, thanks for the shout out, happy to have you as one of our trainees, or trainers in that process. Excuse me. So um, my call to action was simple. You know, mental health is one of those things that you know, we don’t walk around wearing a badge, or you may not know if somebody has something they’re struggling with that day. So just always assume that people have a lot going on. And if your response can be trauma-informed, regardless if you know they have a mental health issue, or if they’ve had some sort of other traumatic event, if we choose kindness, and if we choose that trauma-informed, collective, you know, a walk alongside of you, I think that as a state, we will win every time.




Erik Muckey  53:01


I love that. And as you’re looking for training opportunities for ACESs, to really live out, Tifanie’s call to action, which I think all of us should try to live out to go to this website, you’ll be able to find information on virtual ACEs training.  And I’d always shared a lot of links here. And so I see in the comments here, something really helpful for all of us, you know, how do we follow up? How do we get ourselves involved. And Ben, thank you for asking for this call to action. So one of the features of today that I want to share is Lost&Found I’ll actually be bringing all these training opportunities under one roof in terms of communication and email marketing. And so we’ve built a list server, we’ll be building a list serve to send local training opportunities to you. If you’re in South Dakota, great. If you’re not in South Dakota, please sign up. Regardless, we plan to expand our training listserv or resource lists to other states, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, particular.  And so if you’re looking to take action today and sign up for a mental health training, or to host a training, you can use this link and all the training opportunities you’ve heard about today, all the links, the posters, anything you want to know about these trainings and get connected to these really fantastic people will be available to you via email, we’ll be sending out an email once a month so you can see the latest and greatest from everybody. And so if you want to get involved today, use any of the links that are in the comments for the individual organizations here. And for others that are involved in South Dakota and around the country. You can use this link will be sending you localized mental health training opportunities for your area.  So with that, I do want to kind of close out and I’ll just share sort of a final call to action. So you’ve heard you’ve heard from three fantastic partners in South Dakota. There’s training opportunities that we offer here that are available around the country, you can access them really anywhere. But as you’re really thinking about sort of the spirit of today, Martin Luther King, Day of Service, you know, getting involved in efforts to improve mental health, for your family, for your friends, for your students, colleagues, whatever person in your life might be struggling with mental health or suicide ideation, you have an ability to help, and so much of that starts with conversation. So we really encourage you today, you know, think of training, think of getting a better sense of language around how to, you know, put a person first and these person first language, how to, you know, get to know the organizations that are doing work in mental health, you know, where support and help might be, that’s, it’s more in the professional range. All those opportunities are available to you. And it really begins with training.  And so today, I really encourage you to make a commitment to yourself, to your friends, your family, whoever in your life might be struggling to get the help that you need as you see fit, but then also be able to get the training that you need to help others.  And so with that today, I really, again, want to thank our panelists, and thank you for all that you do to make mental health better in our state. We need all of us involved in this. And for those of you watching today, please again, be sure to look at any of the training opportunities that are available in the comments. Or you can sign up for an email newsletter once a month, right to your inbox  So thanks all of you, Sheri, Michelle, Tifanie, for joining me today. Really appreciate you taking time on Martin Luther King Day to do this. And from all of us, I lost and found today for the folks joining in. Thanks for being here. And if you have any follow up questions for the panelists again, use the link we’ll contact you. So thanks to the three of you for joining today. Really appreciate your time.




Michelle Majors  57:02


Thanks, Erik.




Tifanie Petro  57:04


Thank you.




Erik Muckey  57:06


Thanks, everybody.






We’re compassionate. We are inclusive, we are responsive and we are here.