Tag: mental health

Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast: Suicide Prevention and Gun Safety with Veterans Affairs and Moms Demand Action

Content Warning: Great Minds with Lost&Found episodes contain mature themes, including mental health, suicide, addiction, and others that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Listener discretion is advised.

Using the CDC’s seven strategies for preventing suicide to guide our work, we spoke with Patty Mayrose (a veteran, a VA nurse, and Moms Demand Action volunteer) and Emily Thomas (the State Chapter Lead for the South Dakota Chapter of Moms Demand Action) about how they create protective environments for those at risk of suicide and improve the mental health landscape in Sioux Falls and South Dakota. Learn more about the Be SMART program, designed to help adults and parents normalize conversations about gun safety and take responsible actions that can prevent child gun deaths and injuries. If you are a veteran or know a veteran (or anyone else) struggling with mental health challenges or facing suicidal thoughts, call 988, then press 1 to be connected to the Veterans Crisis Line.


To learn more about the work that Lost&Found is doing to prevent suicide among youth and young adults, go to resilienttoday.org.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (@resilienttoday).


Listen on Spotify or find other listening options on Anchor.

You can also watch this episode on YouTube.

Students need more mental health options, student reps tell SD Board of Regents

Two student representatives voiced their support for increased mental health options for students at the South Dakota Board of Regents meeting in October.

Katie Conzet, executive director of the Student Federation, and Caleb Weiland, president of the Student Federation, spoke as representatives of 30,000 students in South Dakota’s regental system of post-secondary institutions.

Weiland began with statistics explaining why expanding mental health options is important.

“Sadly, in South Dakota between the ages of 20 and 29, suicide is the leading cause of death. Furthermore, South Dakota just broke their own record for suicides per year. The sad truth is, we can and should do more,” Weiland said. “With the understanding that we will never be able to completely solve this issue in its entirety, we can attempt to better address this issue.”

Conzet and Weiland asked regents to support expanding tele mental health options as recommended in Senate Bill 55 Task Force Recommendation Number 29. They also named other services that would be helpful for students, such as QPR training, peer-to-peer mentoring, group therapy, coping skills training, mental health workshops, and app-based services.

“The need for mental health services is not diminishing anytime soon,” Conzet said. “We need to have the systems and programs in place to equip today’s students with the proper mental health education and resources to identify mental health in themselves and others for the betterment of tomorrow. It’s our responsibility to ensure regental mental health infrastructure can adapt to today’s needs. We look forward to more conversations between the board and the Federation on this very important topic.”

Listen to the report (excerpted from the full recording of the meeting) or read the transcript below.




Transcript: Student Federation representatives speak to South Dakota Board of Regents on expanding mental health options


Pam Roberts  00:00

We will move on to report of the Student Federation. Katie, and I think Caleb’s coming up too. There we go.


Katie Conzet  00:13

Good morning, Madam President and members of the Board of Regents. My name is Katie Conzet, and I am the Executive Director of the Student Federation.


Caleb Weiland  00:20

My name is Caleb Weiland. I’m president of the Student Federation. Before we get into a report today, I just want to touch on two things. First, I want to thank almost Dr. Heather Forney for her work … and just advocating on behalf of students to just find a solution to better that situation we have on campuses. And then second, before we dive into our strategic plan update, I want to thank two individuals for pushing me to believe that the strategic plan can actually do something. I’m a changed man from the June meeting. And so I hope you see that today in the report.


Katie Conzet  00:51

All right. So in June, the Federation acted to form a mental health strategic plan, as you might remember. Today, we are here to update the board on our findings and start the constructive conversation. However, before we get into our findings, we want to recognize the work that our mental health professionals and advocates such as the Board of Regents has done and will continue to do to better address these issues.


Caleb Weiland  01:14

To provide a background of information and demonstrate the immense need of why the Federation feel so passionate about calling for increased attention to mental health services on and off all regional campuses, here are a few statistics that represent our motivation. After the COVID 19 pandemic, South Dakota has the eighth highest suicide rate in the nation. Sadly, in South Dakota between the ages of 20 and 29, suicide is the leading cause of death. Furthermore, South Dakota just broke their own record for suicides per year. The sad truth is, we can and should do more. With the understanding that we will never be able to completely solve this issue in its entirety, we can attempt to better address this issue. We, as the elected representatives of over 30,000 students, believe in giving an increased attention and action toward a unified and regental front to combat mental health crisis, the mental health crisis, we stand an affirmation of the Senate Bill 55 Task Force Recommendation Number 29, titled Expand Student Mental Health Options, specifically through telehealth.


Katie Conzet  02:18

The Federation is focused on ensuring students such as those at Black Hill State University-Rapid City and USD Sioux Falls locations and all of our online students are not left out of this discussion. Which is why the investment in tele mental health resources would reach a portion of our peers who already have a lower amount of access to on-campus support systems.


Caleb Weiland  02:38

While our counseling centers find longer wait times for students seeking appointments, and while every campus has an on-call crisis counselor, there are rarely alternative mental health resources for more intermediate-needs students. Currently, from a regental standpoint, the student to counselor ratio, the counselor-to-student ratio is one to 999. The American Counseling Association recommends a counselor-to-student ratio of one to 250. It is not fiscally sustainable nor the most effective approach and use of resources just keep hiring more counselors.


Katie Conzet  03:11

Now we understand that mental health is not a one-size-fits-all problem. It has no silver bullet. An effective approach would be looking at into the expansion and creation of a low-cost and high-impact program. Expanding programs such as QPR training–Question, Persuade and Refer–that equips those trained in addressing signs of suicide crisis and teaches them how to respond. Another program worth looking at is peer-to-peer mentoring. This program pairs an upperclassman with a first-year student who is interested in or the needs of an individual to help them get through their first year of college. Group therapy is an existing program on some campuses that is also worth expanding, as research points to college students suffering largely from stress and time management problems during their first years.


Caleb Weiland  03:55

A few programs worth bringing into the regental system include coping skills training. Coping skills training is based upon giving students the ability to learn how to adapt to situations, take feedback in a non-defensive manner, and better equip our students with resilience training. Additionally, mental health workshops to address time management, stress and depression would be another cost-effective approach at educating students on how to seek help and address mental health issues before they start. Finally, one regental campus has an app that gives intermediate students access to educational modules on a variety of mental health issues. Creating app services regental wide offer students who for one reason or another will not seek counseling but potentially need some potentially need some guidance. By expanding existing and investing in new programs, we can educate campus communities about mental health and push for the destigmatization of seeking mental health resources on and off college campuses.


Katie Conzet  04:50

The need for mental health services is not diminishing anytime soon. New reports show that regental growth is vast, and we the Federation are ecstatic to hear these numbers. However, while this growth is good, we need to have the systems and programs in place to equip today’s students with the proper mental health education and resources to identify mental health in themselves and others for the betterment of tomorrow. It’s our responsibility to ensure regental mental health infrastructure can adapt to today’s needs. We look forward to more conversations between the board and the Federation on this very important topic. And we thank you all for your time.


Pam Roberts 05:27

Thank you very much. Are there any questions from the regents on the report? Yes, Regent Brock–Regent Brock Brown?


Brock Brown  05:35

Either way. Well, thank you so much for making the report. I think that through our conversations, it’s so important that when you said in June that we are going to make this report, and we’re gonna have this task force, now you’ve followed through. And during my time on the board, students have brought two issues to the board. They’ve been successful on one of them. So I hope this is another one, and we can come together and have more conversations, like you said, but what do you think the next steps are, from your perspective from us, with staff and on each individual campus?


Katie Conzet  06:02

Well, the first step, which is kind of probably on everyone’s mind, is funding. So whatever we decide to establish as a federation, whatever the next course of action is, it’s where are we going to get the money for that? So we’ve been working with Dr. Miner, looking at some potential outcomes for that. But otherwise, I mean, we’re here with our issue to hopefully work with you guys in collaboration to come to a conclusion based on that.


Pam Roberts  06:30

Further questions, comments? Yes, Regent Rave?


Tim Rave  06:32

I don’t know that I have a question per se, but may spur some conversation. So I just came back from a meeting in Washington DC with a group of my peers. And obviously, mental health crisis is, you know, not a South Dakota problem. It’s a–it’s a nation problem that’s not only isolated to college campuses. And so, I think I just bring this up for discussion, because I know there’s a lot of tools in that toolbox. And you guys did a fantastic job of laying out, you know, things that I hadn’t even thought of the peer-to-peer counseling and some of these other topics. One thing we didn’t talk about, unless I missed it, was looking at some telehealth options, and then, you know, trying to differentiate between a mental health crisis. And I think Caleb actually talked a little bit about, you know, maybe just someone needs somebody to talk to, and that, you know, feels a little more peer-to-peer to me, but I think, I think as this evolves, and it’s not a problem we’re gonna solve today, if we did, we’d be all rich and retired, because we’d have it figured out, and we’re not going to do that. But I think I do appreciate the conversation. I do appreciate the fact that I think there are some steps we can start taking and start looking at some of these avenues. And so there are some opportunities, I think, to make some some progress.


Pam Roberts  07:37

Thank you. Anybody else? Thank you is really a good presentation, a well thought out and well prepared. So thank you very much. We appreciate it.


Katie Conzet  07:47

Thank you all.

What we learned from the #30Days30Stories project in 2022 

Thirty storytellers shared their stories of struggles with mental health and how they are finding resilience as part of Lost&Found’s 30 Days, 30 Stories project, which was part of National Suicide Prevention Month in September. Here, we reflect on what we learned from the project.


1. Finding storytellers was easier than it was in our first year, but challenges remain.

  • From staff members and partners in the mental health profession, we were able to come up with a list of more than 50 names of potential storytellers. “People are waiting to tell their stories; we just have to ask them to do so,” said L&F Community Engagement Manager Joel Kaskinen. “In our second year of this campaign, I found it easier to find people to share their stories, which tells me our communities are more open to sharing and the stigma around mental illness and suicide is decreasing.”
  • While getting stories, photos, and videos from about 20 storytellers from our list of potential storytellers was fairly straightforward, finding the last 10 was more difficult. Some potential storytellers didn’t feel it was the right time to tell their stories. Five people submitted stories, but we were unable to follow up to schedule photos with them. “Recruiting seemed rushed at the end,” said Prevention Programming Specialist Melissa Renes. “I would suggest offering the opportunity year-round and making it more normalized to share instead of requesting stories later in the year.”


2. We made improvements in recruiting stories that represent the diversity in our communities.

“I think the attempt to find diverse stories helped show that we were inclusive, and that mental health does not discriminate,” Renes said. “It put faces to the work we are doing.”

  • One significant improvement was telling more stories from the LGBTQIA2S+ community. More than 30 percent of storytellers indicated they are something other than heterosexual (including “prefer not to disclose”). This is important, because surveys (such as this one from the Trevor Project) indicate that LGBTQIA2S+ individuals are at higher risk for suicide. Telling these stories empowers the storytellers and helps to foster understanding empathy and understanding in the rest of society.
  • Our storyteller demographics in terms of race were not yet representative of the state as a whole or of the demographics of suicide in South Dakota. Native Americans make up 8.5 percent of South Dakota residents, and 20 percent of suicides in South Dakota (2012-21) were of Native Americans; just 1, or 3 percent, of our storytellers was Native. We had stories from three additional Native Americans but were unable to connect with them for photos and videos, which suggests we need to work on our process to accommodate people who might have difficulty traveling or taking off from work to meet us for a photo shoot. We hope to be able to connect with some or all of those storytellers for next year’s project.
  • We didn’t have as many stories as we’d hoped from people in our target age group. Sixty percent were in the target age group of 10-34. Forty percent of our storytellers were 35 to 54. We definitely value stories of resilience from people of any age, but it would be nice to have more stories from people who are in our target demographic.
  • While we improved in our gender balance from last year, 70 percent of our storytellers were women. “Young women are the most willing to share their stories,” Kaskinen said. “Women aged 10-34 was also the demographic that we reached most through social media.” We will continue to work to break through the limiting “tough guy” stereotype that men can’t talk about their mental health.


3. Storytellers gave a wide variety of resources that helped them find resilience.

“The resources showcased emphasized that when looking at recovery and maintaining positive mental health, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Renes said. The categories of resources suggested were professional mental health care (31 percent), family and friends (20 percent), other strategies (20 percent), support groups (14 percent), educational resources (10 percent) and crisis resources (4 percent). (Most storytellers cited more than one resource.)

  • Storytellers cited professional mental health care (in a variety of forms) most often when they listed resources that had helped them. While it’s wonderful that people have found help through professional services, this makes it that much more important to try to get more people into the mental health profession. There are not enough people to meet the need currently.


4. Storytellers shared a message of hope: It is possible to improve mental health.

  • The path from a dark place to a better place varies greatly from person to person, but it often starts with communication. This communication can come from person struggling: Speaking up about what is going on with them, connecting with a resource, or asking for help. But storytellers often welcomed the care of a friend or family member to start the conversation, and they wished more people had voiced their care and concern. “A theme I noticed throughout stories was that people wished more had talked to them, or they would have liked to know more resources were there,” Renes said.


The project had an impressive 183,455 impressions across all media! Here are some additional statistics on the reach of the project through the web, social media, and the Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast:


This image lists website, social media, and podcast statistics for the 30 Days, 30 Stories campaign, including for the website, podcasts, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. The most impressive stat is total impressions across all media: 183,455.


Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast: Overcoming Loss with Billie & Kelsea Sutton

Content Warning: Great Minds with Lost&Found episodes contain mature themes, including mental health, suicide, addiction, and others that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Listener discretion is advised.
The Suttons are no stranger to loss. From a rodeo accident that left Billie paralyzed from the waist down to losing a gubernatorial election and finally the death of their daughter, Billie and Kelsea know what loss feels like and the toll it takes mentally. They share their journey with loss (and gain) in this episode of Great Minds with Lost&Found. If someone can be the testament to how much you can gain from losing it all, the Suttons are it.
This episode is part of Lost&Found’s annual #30Days30Stories digital storytelling campaign for #NationalSuicidePreventionMonth. With goals of increasing awareness of mental health challenges, empowering others to share their stories, and providing resources for support, this campaign is a major part of Lost&Found’s advocacy strategy. Read all stories shared through this campaign at 30stories.org.

To learn more about the work that Lost&Found is doing to prevent suicide among youth and young adults, go to resilienttoday.org.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (@resilienttoday).

Listen on Spotify or find other listening options on Anchor.

You can also watch this episode on YouTube.

Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast: We Can Do More to Prevent Suicide with Jake Danielson

Jake Danielson speaks on the Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast.

Content Warning: Great Minds with Lost&Found episodes contain mature themes, including mental health, suicide, addiction, and others that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Listener discretion is advised.
Jake Danielson is a South Dakotan living with anxiety, depression, psychosis, and other mental health challenges. He has survived multiple suicide attempts, has been in and out of treatment, and has recently started a movement inspiring others to share their stories of mental health struggles. In this episode, Jake chats with host Joel Kaskinen about these challenges, how being a college athlete impacted his mental health, what gets him through his toughest days, and his work with the We Can Movement.
This episode is part of Lost&Found’s annual #30Days30Stories digital storytelling campaign for #NationalSuicidePreventionMonth. With goals of increasing awareness of mental health challenges, empowering others to share their stories, and providing resources for support, this campaign is a major part of Lost&Found’s advocacy strategy. Read all stories shared through this campaign at 30stories.org.

To learn more about the work that Lost&Found is doing to prevent suicide among youth and young adults, go to resilienttoday.org.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (@resilienttoday).

Listen on Spotify or find other listening options on Anchor.

You can also watch this episode on YouTube.

Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast: How Social Media Impacts Mental Health with Gabe Dannenbring

Joel Kaskinen and Gabe Dannenbring talk during the Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast.

Content Warning: Great Minds with Lost&Found episodes contain mature themes, including mental health, suicide, addiction, and others that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Listener discretion is advised.
You may know Gabe Dannenbring as “that teacher from TikTok,” but Gabe is so much more than just an influencer. Gabe is a local South Dakotan, former college athlete, and human who struggles with mental health challenges just like the rest of us. In this episode of Great Minds, Gabe shares his experiences with mental health, how social media “fame” has impacted his wellbeing, and how he teaches his students to use social media in a healthy way.
This episode is part of Lost&Found’s annual #30Days30Stories digital storytelling campaign for #NationalSuicidePreventionMonth. With goals of increasing awareness of mental health challenges, empowering others to share their stories, and providing resources for support, this campaign is a major part of Lost&Found’s advocacy strategy. Read all stories shared through this campaign at 30stories.org.

To learn more about the work that Lost&Found is doing to prevent suicide among youth and young adults, go to resilienttoday.org.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (@resilienttoday).

Listen on Spotify or find other listening options on Anchor.

You can also watch this episode on YouTube.

Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast: Learning from Broken Systems with Cherokee McAlpine

Content Warning: Great Minds with Lost&Found episodes contain mature themes, including mental health, suicide, addiction, and others that may not be appropriate for all audiences. Listener discretion is advised.
In this episode of Great Minds with Lost&Found, host Joel Kaskinen chats with Cherokee McAlpine about her lived experiences with mental illness, the foster care system, and healthcare. Surviving a turbulent childhood of abuse, trauma, drugs and alcohol, rape, and multiple suicide attempts, Cherokee now shares her story with others in hopes that they will have a greater understanding of the needs children in similar situations have. Cherokee is a soon-to-be mother, working with youth, and striving to provide them with a better life than the one she had growing up.
This episode is part of Lost&Found’s annual #30Days30Stories digital storytelling campaign for #NationalSuicidePreventionMonth. With goals of increasing awareness of mental health challenges, empowering others to share their stories, and providing resources for support, this campaign is a major part of Lost&Found’s advocacy strategy. Read all stories shared through this campaign at 30stories.org.

To learn more about the work that Lost&Found is doing to prevent suicide among youth and young adults, go to resilienttoday.org.  Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (@resilienttoday).

Listen on Spotify or find other listening options on Anchor.

You can also watch this episode on YouTube.

Seven Ways You Can #DoMore to Prevent Suicide Today

Suicide doesn’t start in a moment of crisis. By addressing the risk factors that contribute to suicide and building up the protective factors that keep people from considering suicide, we can save lives. These seven actions are adapted from the CDC’s seven strategies for suicide prevention. While the CDC’s strategies are largely directed toward mental health professionals and policymakers, there are ways that every one of us can do more to prevent suicide. Read through the list and see how you can take action today to save lives.


1. Help people facing dire financial situations or the loss of housing.

Financial stress, homelessness, or even worries about finances or eviction can increase the risk of suicide. If you know of someone going through a hard time, make sure they don’t feel alone. Work to connect them to resources that can help with both their situation and their mental health. Also, be sure to support policies that ensure people aren’t falling through the cracks.


2. Learn what mental health and suicide prevention resources are available in your area.

The awareness of the importance of mental health is increasing, and the stigma around talking about and seeking mental health is decreasing. This means you are more likely to hear about someone’s struggles than you might have been even a few years ago. Then the question becomes, how can you help? Lost&Found offers a variety of tools for helpers, starting with the EARS framework (described in Lost&Found’s Let’s Talk about Mental Health Guide) to guide your conversation—engage, attend, reinforce, seek. Prepare yourself for the “seek” part of the conversation—seeking help together—by becoming familiar with the mental health and suicide prevention resources available in your area. Lost&Found’s Resources page provides a good overview. The first and easiest resource to become familiar with is this number: 988. This goes to the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, and it can be reached by calling or texting.

Here is an overview of the EARS framework. Find more information about the EARS framework in the Let’s Talk About Mental Health Guide.


3. Reduce access to lethal means in your home, workplace, and community.

Two key pieces of data support this action: First, research shows that attempting suicide is often an impulse based on an intense emotion—the time between deciding to act and attempting suicide can be as little as 5 or 10 minutes. Second, if a person chooses a highly lethal method of suicide, but that method is not available, they tend not to substitute a different method. This means that if we can stretch the time between the decision and the attempt, and if we can make lethal means harder to access, we can save lives. Make sure medications and firearms are safely stored—in other words, behind a lock—in your home. Also look around your workplace and community—if there are places such as bridges where a suicide could take place easily, consider installing signs to encourage people to seek help.


4. Get involved in your community, and work to include those who might be isolated.

Studies suggest there is a correlation between social capital—meaning the sense of trust in a community and the connections between its members—and mental health. This means that all sorts of things that might not seem directly connected to mental health, such as knowing and interacting with your neighbors, block parties, and community improvement projects, are actually long-game suicide prevention strategies. In school settings, this can include participating in clubs or sports, as well as peer support programs. Consider how you could help build social capital in your community. If you are already involved in your community, invite someone else to participate with you to draw the circle of community support a little bigger.


5. Commit to learning—and teaching—how to deal with conflict.

Having the skills to deal with the stresses and adversities of life can help protect people from turning to suicide as an option. Programs that teach these skills, such as social-emotional learning programs for children and teens, or parenting skills and family relationship programs, can give people tools for dealing with problems—and, just as important, they can plant the idea that life’s problems can be solved, or at least managed and improved. One life skill that can help decrease stress and build relationships is learning how to deal productively with conflict. As polarization in society increases and gives people the idea that animosity in the face of conflict is a virtue, knowing how to address conflicts productively is a vital skill. This article on the basics of dealing with conflict in relationships is a good place to start.


6. Work to be accepting of people in marginalized demographic groups that are at higher risk of suicide.

Some groups have higher rates of suicidal behaviors than average. They include people with lower socio-economic status, people with a mental health problem, people who have previously attempted suicide, veterans and active military, people who are the victims of violence, LGBTQIA2S+ people, and members of some racial and ethnic groups. One group that is at higher risk is LGBTQIA2S+ youth. A Trevor Project survey found that 45 percent of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth; 14 percent of LGBTQ youth had attempted suicide in the past year. The survey also pointed to an obvious way to help: suicide attempts were significantly lower among LGBTQ youth that were in accepting communities or who had accepting family and friends. Accepting LGBTQIA2S+ youth for who they are can save lives.


7. Learn how to talk about suicide in ways that don’t add to the trauma of those who have suffered a suicide loss.

The risk of suicide is higher for people who have lost a friend, family member, or other close contact to suicide. While talking about suicide is important—not talking about suicide can feed into a sense of shame for survivors of suicide loss—knowing how to talk about suicide is just as important so we don’t inadvertently add to a survivor’s pain. For example, one phrase to remove from your vocabulary is “committed suicide.” “Committed” is left over from the outdated belief that suicide is a criminal act. It’s better to say “died by suicide.” There are more suggestions for how to talk about mental health and suicide on page 26 in Lost&Found’s Let’s Talk About Mental Health Guide—download it free here.


You can review the CCD’s seven suicide prevention strategies here. Click on the image to see the full report.


This article is part of the 30 Days, 30 Stories: Let’s #DoMore to Prevent Suicide project. See a new story of resilience for every day of National Suicide Prevention Month here.


Great Minds with Lost&Found podcast: Support for Historically At-Risk Populations: From Striving to Thriving with Taneeza Islam

Taneeza Islam, Executive Director of South Dakota Voices for Peace, a Sioux Falls-based nonprofit with an aim to dismantle bigotry and racism targeting refugee, immigrant, and Muslim communities, is on the show to talk about how SDVFP’s services help to support our work of prevention, intervention, and postvention of suicide, among a population at great risk, especially in South Dakota. Using the CDC’s seven strategies for preventing suicide found in their technical package for suicide prevention, to guide our work, we asked Taneeza to think through the work that SDVFP does to strengthen economic supports for the communities she serves and how we can do more by working together, rather than in silos.

To learn more about the work that Lost&Found is doing to prevent suicide among youth and young adults, go to resilienttoday.org. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube (@resilienttoday).

Listen on Spotify or find other listening options on Anchor.

You can also watch this episode on YouTube.

2022 Longball22 Classic is a success

The second-annual Longball22 Classic, held July 22 at Grand Falls Casino & Resort in Larchwood, Iowa, was another successful, meaningful gathering to raise awareness and funds for student mental health. This event honors Ben Longley, a college student who died by suicide in 2020.

This year, 37 teams of four competed in the tournament, more than 250 guests were in attendance, and together, we raised over $80,000 for peer-led student mental health and suicide prevention programming. Thanks to an anonymous match partway through the evening, we surpassed our fundraising goal and are able to make a major impact in our communities.

With over 100 silent auction items donated from local businesses and individuals, a live performance by Nashville singer/songwriter Blessing Offor, and a sold-out tournament of 150 golfers, the outpouring of community, love, and resilience was certainly felt at this year’s Classic.

Find more than 200 photos from the event here.


Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan story features Lost&Found

Screen capture of Yankton newspaper story

The Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan featured Lost&Found’s work as part of a series for Mental Health Awareness Month. Here’s a segment from the story:

Muckey serves as executive director of Lost&Found. The non-profit organization has grown far beyond its start at USD and South Dakota State University in Brookings.

“We serve 13 post-secondary institutions from the Twin Cities to the Wyoming border,” he said. “We have expanded our services a great deal, especially during the pandemic.”

The organization’s footprint isn’t the only thing that has grown since its 2010 founding, Muckey said. He pointed to the successes of addressing what was an often unknown or taboo subject.

“I think the greatest change that has happened over the past 12 years is awareness of the need to invest in mental health. There is an increased realization that it’s a good thing (to address it),” he said.

You can read the rest of the story here.

5K in Mitchell raises awareness of mental health

A “5K for Mental Health” event in Mitchell on Saturday, April 9, drew 49 participants on a windy spring day.

The event was the final project of Adaya Plastow, a student who had gone through the Lost&Found Advocates program at Dakota Wesleyan University this year. Each student who takes part in the Advocates mental health training program chooses a final capstone project to act on what they’ve learned, and Plastow chose to do a 5K to raise awareness of mental health issues.

“This project was really dear to me because I had a friend who recently passed away from suicide,” Plastow said in a Facebook video. “This was my way of doing a dedication to him and a way of helping raise awareness that mental health is real, and suicide is real, and we’re all in this together and we can help each other out through whatever we’re going through.”

The Facebook video was put together by Shealay Smith, Miss Teen South Dakota International 2022, who also wants to advocate for mental health through her platform.

Other DWU Advocates students who helped with the project were Isabella Veffredo, Mckinnely Mull, Elisabeth Ortis, and Morgan Oedekoven.

The L&F Advocates program trains students to better understand and care for their own mental health, equips students with tools for resilience and advocacy, and reduces the stigma of mental health on campus. Learn more about the program here.

Photos by Pam Plastow and Melissa Renes

Lost&Found develops mental health curriculum for Learn & Earn students

Images of slides from the Lost&Found Advocates curriculum presentation

This spring, students who are part of Dakota Wesleyan University’s Learn & Earn Program have learned from a mental health curriculum developed by Lost&Found.

Education & Advocacy Manager Courtney Young wrote the curriculum and presented it to the students over five monthly sessions via videoconferencing link.  

“It has been rewarding to engage with the Learn & Earn students over the past several weeks,” Young said. “We know the transition to college and adulthood can be stressful, but together we can help students learn to navigate their own mental health.” 

This curriculum is an alternative way of presenting content from the Lost&Found Advocates program. The L&F Advocates program trains students to better understand and care for their own mental health, equips students with tools for resilience and advocacy, and reduces the stigma of mental health in their campus communities. Topics include defining mental health and resilience, understanding coping skills and self-care, reflecting on relationships and ways to set healthy boundaries, and how to find help or help others to improve mental health. 

The Learn & Earn program is a 16-month program in Pierre that allows DWU students to earn an associate’s degree with the option to complete a bachelor’s degree. It’s a pathway to landing a professional career that consists of hands-on learning experiences, real-world simulations, and individual and group projects paired with specialized speakers. This program does not require testing or traditional grading scales, making it an appeal to students who don’t thrive in the traditional learning environment. 

At $18,000, the Learn & Earn program is more affordable than most two-year programs in the United States. Students are matched with a professional career coach for the duration of the program, who mentors them and provides guidance and structured support. 

The Learn & Earn program allows students the opportunity to gain professional work experience in both paid and unpaid internships while earning credit/professional credentials in their desired industry. Fields of study and certification include Business Administration, Social Media Marketing, Project Management, Foundations of Social and Human Services, Data Analytics, and Insurance and Banking. 

In addition to this work through the Learn & Earn Program, two other Lost&Found student programs are available at Dakota Wesleyan University—a campus chapter, which has been active since 2019, and the Advocates program, which started in 2021.  

For more information about the Learn & Earn program, go to Learn & Earn (dwu.edu) 

For additional information about the Lost&Found Advocates program, go to L&F Advocates Program | Lost&Found (resilienttoday.org). 

What We Learned from the #30Days30Stories Project

For the month of September, Lost&Found shared 30 stories of resilience from people who have dealt with mental health and suicide. Since we finished that intense month of storytelling, we reflected on what we learned from the #30Days30Stories project.


1. Storytelling is suicide prevention.

  • Talking about mental health is the first step to improving it. Whether it is speaking up because you yourself need help, or speaking up to see if your friend is OK, talking about mental health and thoughts of suicide saves lives. It helps us feel less alone. Plus, when we say our darkest feelings out loud, we are able to be supported in these feelings.
  • We must talk about our emotions and mental health to reduce the stigma. We as a society have gotten better about talking about depression, anxiety, and sadness, but there are still stigmas related to many aspects of mental health and suicide that prevent people from addressing their mental health problems. Also, it’s sometimes easier to encourage a friend or family member to get help than to get help yourself. The more we talk about mental health through stories, the more we can break down stigmas.
  • Storytelling is important in part because much of Lost&Found’s work is identity- and relationship-based. Because mental health is tied to each of our unique identities and experiences, storytelling is an intensive and critical element of our work. The project also highlighted how much networks matter to help us find and share those stories.
  • Stories and statistics work together to paint the full picture of mental illness in our communities. We’ve all heard about the increase in mental health support needs in our area, state, and nation, but we haven’t all heard the stories of lived experience that accompany those statistics. Stories allow us to see more than the numbers do.
  • Storytelling can help us heal. Storytelling is helpful in the healing process for the author, editor, and reader. While it can be difficult to read stories of loss, abuse, and hardship, knowing that the individual is here with us today is powerful. The stories help us know what we can do to support each other.


2. Some stories are more likely to be told than others.

  • Men are still reluctant to share their emotions. Overwhelmingly, we didn’t have the turnout of male storytellers that we would like to see. Only six of the 31 stories that we shared were from men or male-presenting people. All are white-presenting and grew up in the Midwest. This is one obstacle that we need to overcome. The “Midwest manly mentality,” for lack of better term, is still keeping men from speaking up. We need to flip the script if we’re going to remove the shame and stigma and allow men to feel comfortable sharing their feelings and struggles.
  • We can do more to elevate Native American, rural, and LGBTQ2S+ stories in our state. Although the #303Days30Stories covered a breadth of experiences and mental health conditions, the stories came from people who were overwhelmingly White and mostly female, in terms of gender identity. Ultimately, if we wish to be most effective in a project meant to serve as a point of connection as well as a public service announcement, we need to be intentional about connecting with Native American and rural-focused organizations, as well as connecting with LGBTQ2S+ storytellers. Suicide statistics in South Dakota suggest these communities have many more stories to tell, and telling them could save lives.
  • It was significantly easier to find mental health advocates with prior experience or connection to our work to share their story. Many of our participants had previous experience either explaining their mental health conditions with a professional or their family and friends. It may be easier to find storytellers who have already had to explain their experience in some capacity.


3. Improving mental health is possible.

  • Many instances of suicidal ideation are related to trauma. Whether physical trauma, sexual abuse, physical abuse, serious accidents, or major losses, trauma affects our brain and our emotions. Trauma can often lead to depression and feelings of despair. However, there is hope: Trauma can be part of your story, but it doesn’t need to write your story. Knowing this helps people in their lifelong journey of resilience.
  • Doctors, medication, and therapies can and do help. It’s easier to want to “tough it out” than to want to go to see the doctor or a therapist for bad feelings, intrusive thoughts, and mental health issues. However, these things help! Sometimes it takes a while to find the right medication, the right therapist, or the right system of support. But when a person finds the support(s) that work(s) for them, it is life changing! If you’re reading this and are on this journey — or know someone on this journey — continue to have patience. It might be difficult right now, but it won’t always be.
  • Resilient communities do in fact prevent suicide. Many of the storytellers found their strength and support through friends and family. We heard people talk about therapy and medication, yoga, fitness, etc., but the source of strength noted in every single story was at least one trusted person. By building resilient communities and fostering relationships above all else, lives are being saved.


4. Having a greater impact on the mental health system is possible, both with this project and beyond it.

  • The project’s reach was surprising. We knew that this project would have a great impact and a large return on investment, but the social media analytics were stunning. We reached thousands of people online. Imagine what we could do if everyone felt safe and comfortable sharing their story and if word of mouth/print testimonials were shared too.  With an intentional planning process, this project has the prospect of becoming more widely distributed, supported, and impactful in 2022. It has the potential to change conversations in South Dakota for years to come.
  • People relate to their friends, family, and colleagues’ stories of experience with mental health and suicide much more readily than to an organization’s general message. Stories varied in how much engagement they had. The storytellers who shared their stories within their personal networks had the widest reach. Many new people engaged with Lost&Found for the first time simply because someone in their circle was willing to share their story.
  • There is still work to be done. A favorite quote says, “We are restless because there is still work to be done,” and the stories, statistics, and response to this project collectively support this idea: There’s a lot of restlessness out there. Many people in our state and country can’t feel comfortable right now because they sense there is something bigger or better or more impactful that they could be doing with their time. That restlessness is a motivator, and some of those people have moved into action. We at Lost&Found can use that restlessness to do more to move people to take actions that save lives.


Here’s what the storytellers taught us:







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 helplinecenter.org. 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 SDsuicideprevention.org 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, resilienttoday.org 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 resilienttoday.org.  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 bit.ly/getMHtraining 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 bit.ly/getMHtraining.  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.