Month: April 2023

Lost&Found staff members quoted in article about South Dakota’s mental health care workforce shortage

South Dakota Health Professional Shortage Areas Mental Healthcare December 2022 – South Dakota Map showing Shortage Areas by geographic area and population

Lost&Found Executive Director/CEO Erik Muckey and Senior Prevention Specialist Carrie Jorgensen were two of the voices raising concerns about the shortage of mental health care professionals in South Dakota in an April 1 article by South Dakota Searchlight.

The article points out that South Dakotans seeking mental health care often need to wait for weeks to see a counselor or therapist. The problem, which comes in part from a surge in demand, can be worse for people in rural places, people with limited English proficiency, and non-white people who prefer a provider with a similar background. It is also profound on college campuses throughout the state.

Jorgensen and Muckey said that programs like Lost&Found’s Peer2Peer Mentorship program can help to reduce the demand for services:

On college campuses across the state, students find support in peer-to-peer mentorship programs run by Lost & Found, a suicide prevention nonprofit.

The mentors are not trained to be counselors — instead, they offer a listening ear, teach life skills like boundary setting, and connect their mentee to other mental health resources if needed.

For “students who are at subclinical levels of depression and anxiety, this is exactly what they need” to prevent those conditions from becoming bigger issues, said Carrie Jorgensen, senior prevention program specialist at Lost & Found.

More of this “broader ecosystem support” could help providers by easing the strain on their services, said Erik Muckey, executive director of the nonprofit.

“It’s no fault of anybody, but we have to respond,” he said. “There is no other time that we can wait for this to pass because it’s not going to pass. It’s just going to continue.”

Read the full article here.

Lost&Found’s SDSU chapter hosts Zumbathon April 22

Lost&Found's SDSU chapter hosts Zumbathon April 22

Dancing for mental and physical wellness is the plan for SDSU Lost&Found’s third-annual Zumbathon, set for April 22 at Jack’s Place in the South Dakota State University Student Union.

“All students and community members of all ages are welcome to join us,” said Asha Hertler, adviser to SDSU’s Lost&Found chapter. “We invite you to ‘dance for resilience’ – to connect with others.”

The good vibes of the event will support a good cause. “This annual fundraiser is a call to action to improve campus mental health and to advocate for suicide prevention and support,” Hertler said. “Our student organization is directly connected with the Lost&Found nonprofit organization that focuses on mental health education and advocacy work.”

The event will also serve as a year-end celebration for all of Lost&Found’s programs at SDSU. “In addition to honoring our graduating seniors, we will also recognize the Peer2Peer Mentors and Advocates who are committed to caring for their own mental health and the well-being of others,” Hertler said.

Registration starts at 3:45 p.m., with a welcome and introduction at 4 p.m. dancing set to begin at 4:15 p.m. Preregistration is encouraged. The cost is $10 for community members and $5 for students. Register here.

The event is sponsored by Brookings Behavioral Health & Wellness and Rising Hope 605.

College students report more mental health challenges in national 2021-22 survey

The Healthy Minds Study

Rates of anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation among college students increased in the 2021-22 school year, according to recently released data.

See the latest data from the Healthy Minds Study here.

The Healthy Minds Network, a research organization that focuses on adolescent and young adult mental health, has conducted a survey called the Healthy Minds Study for 15 years. The survey looks at the mental health of post-secondary students by collecting more than half a million responses from students at more than 450 colleges across the United States.

The latest release of the survey shows that 44 percent of students reported symptoms of depression, 37 percent reported anxiety disorders, and 15 percent reported that they seriously considered suicide in the past year. These rates are all the highest rates in the 15 years the survey has been conducted.

Lost&Found played a role in gathering data for the Healthy Minds Survey during the 2022-23 school year. Students at Western Dakota Technical College in Rapid City were surveyed, which was the first time South Dakota students had participated. The release of that data will happen in the spring of 2024.

The survey shows the importance of services such as those that Lost&Found provides.

“We clearly see the need for mental health support, through resilience education for example, throughout the nation,” said Dr. Gesine Ziebarth, Lost&Found’s Research & Evaluation Manager.

The 2021-22 survey data did highlight some positive developments. More students than ever have accessed therapy to manage mental health concerns. The use of alcohol was also at the lowest point in the survey’s history, with more than half of students reporting they had not used alcohol in the two weeks prior to taking the survey.


Early data shows a decline in suicides in South Dakota in 2022

Early data shows a decline in suicides in South Dakota in 2022 – bar graph and chart showing Suicide Deaths by Age Group and by race and a line chart comparing 2021 to 2022

Provisional data of suicides in South Dakota in 2022 shows a slight decline from the record-high number of suicides recorded in 2021.

This preliminary data, which can still change as death reports are submitted, shows 191 suicides in 2022 as of April 11. This is 5.5 percent decrease from the 202 suicides reported in 2021.

“On face value, this tells us that we’re seeing the potential that statewide efforts are bearing fruit, which is helpful to the overall efforts of the state’s Suicide Prevention Workgroup,” said Erik Muckey, CEO and executive director of Lost&Found. “To come down from a record level is a good thing. One less life lost to suicide is a good thing for our families, communities, and the well-being of our state. To see any kind of reduction should be considered a win.”

He cautioned, however, that this may still change.

“When our county coroners are able to report final numbers and those numbers show something less than 202 suicide deaths, we can really see and appreciate what is working and what isn’t working. Suicide death is historically underreported, and it’s important for South Dakotans to remember that 191 suicide deaths are still too many,” he said. “Considering, also, that there are still 40 percent more suicide deaths than they were in 2012 when there were 135, we still have years to go before we turn the tide.”

Getting this data, even when it’s not final, is helpful to Lost&Found and other organizations working in suicide prevention.

“As members of the South Dakota Suicide Prevention Sub-Workgroup, we are grateful to see this information in what feels like ‘real time’ to respond to trends throughout the year,” Muckey said. “It’s not a common practice nationwide to see this data so quickly, which gives ecosystem organizations such as Lost&Found an opportunity to respond and change strategy during the year that organizations in other states may not have.”

The data also show who has been most affected by suicide, and that, unfortunately, is youth and young adults. Between 40 and 50 percent of suicides in recent years have been of people under the age of 35.

“Suicide remains the leading cause of death for South Dakotans in that age demographic, reminding us of the importance of Lost&Found’s mission,” Muckey said.

He added that men should take notice: For all ages and races, suicide takes more lives of men than of women. This is in part because men are more likely to attempt suicide with firearms, and those attempts are more likely to result in death. Men may also be less likely to seek mental health care.

“Suicide also has a significant impact in rural communities and tribal nations, where geographic isolation, poverty, and reduction in access to mental health care workers is a significant contributor to community suicide risk,” he added. “Without appropriate investment in those areas, we’ll continue to see South Dakota’s overall suicide death rate continue to remain among the highest nationwide.”