Tag: mental health

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.


Start your Holiday Mental Health Plan with this checklist

We know this holiday season won’t be like any other. That’s why our team has created a Holiday Mental Health Checklist for the months ahead. ✅

Use the four components of resilience to gauge your mental health over the months ahead (and beyond!). If you’re not able to check the box, that’s okay—we all are at different places in our mental health journeys, and each of us can take steps to improve our mental health.

Know that your mental health matters, and you are worth the actions you need to take to improve your mental health. This checklist can help you know where to start.

Once you have a starting point, check out Lost&Found on Instagram for regular ideas on how to improve your mental health in these areas over the holiday season.



Use the four components of resilience to gauge your mental health this holiday season. If you’re unable to check three or more items in each, plan to work on improving that aspect of your mental health.


  • I talk to others ⏤ coworkers, clients, friends, family, neighbors, or patients — often (multiple times per day).
  • I visit and chat with friends regularly (once or more per week).
  • I connect with my family/loved ones often (once or more per week).
  • I feel connected to my local community.


  • I feel fulfilled with my life and look forward to my future.
  • I feel as if my life has purpose, and I take actions to give it purpose.
  • I feel connected to my faith, higher power, or force that gives me purpose.
  • I could write down 5 long-term goals for myself at this moment.


  • I talk to myself the way I talk to others (with positivity, grace, and compassion).
  • I accept who I am, and I embrace my flaws.
  • I think positively about myself, my characteristics, and my values.
  • I feel positive about my life and the steps I am taking daily to grow.


  • I drink at least 64 ounces of water (approximately 8 cups) each day.
  • I eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each and every day.
  • I exercise at least 5 times a week.
  • I feel financially stable or have a plan to become financially stable.

Lost&Found’s Panel Discussion on the Future of Mental Health: VIDEO and TRANSCRIPT

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This is a transcript of a conversation with four mental health leaders from around the state of South Dakota discussing the future of mental health and suicide prevention efforts for young adults 14-35. In the conversation are Sheri Nelson, Helpline Center; Tosa Two heart, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board; Angela Drake, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – South Dakota Chapter; and Amber Reints, Avera Behavioral Health. It was moderated by Nathan Hofer.

The event started with the playing of a video about Lost&Found’s chapters, which hadn’t played correctly in the day’s previous live session.

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


Wendy Mamer  00:02

I got involved with Lost&Found when we as administrators and faculty were having a lot of conversations surrounding student mental health. We really noticed a need for a student led mental health group.


Brooke Poppe  00:14

Executive leadership are all students. And so it really is students run by the students. Every semester, there is something new. So they do a great job of being innovative and supportive.


Hailey Nold  00:26

I think the chapter acts as sort of a liaison between the students and the faculty and other mental health resources.


Michaela Ahrenholtz  00:33

It’s becoming a place where I’ve been able to connect with other people across different campuses, within the campus.


Dallas Doane  00:42

So what we do is we have, you know, our meetings where it’s an open session for students to you know, talk about what’s going on what’s going on in their lives, what’s going on, on campus or in the nation as well. But also, then we host some fun events to really build, you know, our resilience for self, resilience for others, resilience for community.


Nathan Hofer  00:58

Our campus chapters are an important part of what we do, because they focus in on creating a community and a culture where we can advocate and be more aware of our mental health needs. We’re talking about things. We’re doing fundraisers, we’re connecting with administration and faculty, students, staff. We’re trying to be engaged in the day to day aspects of the students’ lives.


Kayden Hoeke  01:18

We’ll teach you, we will help you in your role to be an advocate. And you could have come in with zero skills and still come out the best advocate that we’ve ever had.


Nathan Hofer  02:24

Hello, everyone, and still Thursday, Happy Thursday, everyone, happy Lost&Found Day. I’ll say that all day because it’s true. If you’re in Sioux Falls it’s happy Lost&Found day, but you can celebrate wherever you’re at, too. So I’m so excited to be able to be here with you all for Voices of Resilience, our special edition of Voices of Resilience, as we are bringing in for our first ever panel of folks here to talk about the future of mental health in our region. So my name is Nathan Hofer. And I work for the Lost&Found Association as the Director of Campus Operations. So if you don’t know who Lost&Found is and what we’re about, we are focused on preventative mental health we’re focused on, we’re focused on being on the front side and building resilience in people so that when life throws them, the series of hardships that we’re, we’re in a series of hardships right now. But we are prepared to deal with that. And we get to work with some awesome partners. And we have those folks here with us today. Not all of our partners, but some of our great partners that we that we work with, and I’m going to bring them up in just a second.  But I do want to give a shout out here really quick to our sponsors who are sponsoring Voices of Resilience, the Astrup Family Foundation, and American Bank and Trust. We are really grateful for your generosity, and your willingness to, you know, give back to the work that we’re doing in our communities. So enough from me. But, you know, we can talk about Lost&Found all day. In fact, I do that often. But more importantly, I’m going to bring up our guests.  So we have Angela Drake with AFSP. We have Sheri Nelson, with the Helpline Center. We have Tosa Two Heart with Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board, and we have Amber Reints with Avera Behavioral Health. And I probably said your last names wrong. I’m so sorry. I remember I said your last name wrong. I can tell


Amber Reints  04:22

you did good.


Nathan Hofer  04:25

Awesome. Well, I gave your your names here. But why don’t you all just tell us a little bit more about yourself and the organizations you work for then we’ll dive into the conversation after that. And we’ll just go down the line that I introduced you all in.


Angela Drake  04:41

I am Angela Drake with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or AFSP, a tongue-twister. We are a national organization made up of chapters. So what we do is we need to raise funds to help fund research education, advocacy and support of loss survivors. So we work to spread hope to all of those affected by suicide and mental health, all across the all across the country. But most importantly, my work is done here in South Dakota, supporting our communities here.


Sheri Nelson  05:29

Hi, my name is Sheri Nelson. I am the Suicide Prevention Director at the Helpline Center. And so we have 211, which is statewide. So we have a database full of resources for individuals. We also answer the Suicide Prevention Lifeline number. And we are the only accredited crisis line in the State of South Dakota. We’re accredited by a AAS and so American Association of Suicidology. And so if anyone calls the 1-800-273-8255 number, you will reach someone actually in South Dakota. And we also do we do prevention, intervention and postvention work. So prevention work, we do a lot of trainings, suicide prevention trainings, we do mental health, first aid trainings, and a variety of other things. We also work with survivors, so people who have lost a loved one to suicide. We have survivor groups that are held on a monthly basis, both in person in virtually with the pandemic. And we have survivor classes that are held four times a year and there is one starting September 15 as well. So we do a variety of things. So thank you.


Nathan Hofer  07:06

Awesome, thank you. Tosa. Let’s hear from you.


Tosa Two Heart  07:09

(Greeting) I’m Tosa Two Heart and I am the Community Behavioral Health Director at Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board. Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board is an organization dedicated to serving the health and wellness needs of the tribal members it represents which includes 18 tribes and tribal communities across South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. Great Plains addresses health necessities, we bring health promotion and education, and various other programs for these tribal communities. And so our service area is about 170,000 individuals. We also operate the Yachty Health Center in Rapid City. And our service area is about 14,000 Native Americans who reside and the Rapid City area. So I’m our community behavioral health department, which I am, I manage a few projects and support our other projects. So we have a couple of youth native suicide prevention programs, connecting with our youth that supports Native youth in the Black Hills area. The project provides a project prevention postvention or post intervention and postvention services to youth and community in Rapid City. We also have a Native suicide prevention program with the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. And that project primarily does prevention education and provides other resources to support youth. We’re starting to do support groups and building capacity for crisis response. And, and other programs. We have our tribal opioid response where we’re working currently with three tribes to two tribes and the Rapid City area to enhance resources for substance use, prevention, education, treatment and recovery.


Nathan Hofer  09:31

Awesome and Amber, let’s hear from you.


Amber Reints  09:35

I’m Amber Reints ,and I’m a clinical program manager at Avera Behavioral Health. Avera continues to work to do what we can to help meet the mental health needs throughout our community and region. We have a inpatient services that does treat patients, children, adolescents, adults and then we do have a senior program as well. We do also have a lot of outpatient services, some of them in person and some of them are via telemedicine, we do have a 24/7 assessment program, which again, does allow people who are in crisis to walk in at any time and receive a free and confidential assessment. We do also have the farm and rural stress hotline, that’s a partnership with the state in the community mental health centers throughout the state to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of the rural population. And then we also do have a very active suicide Zero Suicide committee, and that committee does partner with other organizations throughout the state to continue to do what we can to reduce suicide throughout the state of South Dakota.


Nathan Hofer  10:53

Awesome. Well, first off, thank you all for first the work you do and to for being here with me today. I’m so excited to spend some time with you. And before I dive into some questions, I want to say anyone watching I see, I see we have people watching right now, if you have any comments or questions that you’d like to ask these wonderful folks, please put it in the Facebook comments, and we will bring it up on screen. And we will make sure to get your question asked, we want to make sure, as I say every week on Voices of Resilience, you probably get tired of hearing from me, I don’t blame you. But so let’s hear from you if you have questions, so feel free to engage with this panel as this is a unique opportunity to work and connect with some people doing some really awesome things in our community.  Which speaking of our community, you know, before we started this thing, we shared a little video clip of, you know, one of the communities that we work with this is our, you know, young adult population, specifically in post secondary. And as we look at that, you know, we know some of the mental health needs for that community. So I’d like to hear from all of you: What are some of the mental health needs that you see in the communities you serve? What are the things that are really on the rise right now? What are the things that you’re just, you know, that you’re dealing with? More More, more often than not, I would say. And you can just whoever wants to hop in, we’ll let it be free flow.


Angela Drake  12:22

I think our biggest need is, you know, making sure that our teachers are getting the education that they need to help our kids. Even more so now. Um, you know, we don’t know what that looks like for them. They don’t know what that looks like for them. You know, and then as isolated as people are either choosing to be or needing to be, or that they still have some sort of connection, you know, we may have to be socially, socially distancing. But making sure that we’re not completely isolated.


Amber Reints  13:02

I went on a lot of what Angela just said, and what I would say from the specifically the inpatient side, right now, what we see is there’s a lot more people that are struggling. And that’s really not just within our community. If you look nationally right now, on the impact of COVID-19, we continue to see a lot of mental health concerns, because of the things that Angela has talked about. There’s a lot more isolation, there’s a lot more anxiety, there’s a lot more unknowns. And so with that we really see, for example, within the child and adolescent population, where we see a lot of kids struggling, but we also see a lot of parents and family members struggling sometimes because of the financial concerns that they’ve had to experience as a result of COVID-19. So we are just certainly seeing a need for meet more people needing more mental health services.


Sheri Nelson  13:50

Yes, absolutely. I agree with both amber and Angela. I know that our calls here at the helpline center have greatly increased since COVID. Started. A lot of people who maybe not even in the past, have had mental health issues are struggling with that stress and anxiety and depression right now due to everything surrounding the pandemic. but also those people that are dealing with mental health existing mental health issues, it’s really important to keep them connected. And I think that we do have a lot of good resources here in our community to get those people the help that they need.


Tosa Two Heart  14:38

I you know, I agree with everyone was saying and specifically with our native population, there is definitely a need for more capacity for our Native programs to reach more Native youth but some of the challenges right now are, A lot of people don’t know, what are the resources for behavioral health, mental health. And not just in terms of counseling, but where can they go to, who could they talk to when after, after counseling. With our connecting with our youth program, we have navigators who are like mentors resource refers basically helping youth navigate what are the resources out there for them? And how do they get signed up? How do they get to those resources, because a lot of times, you have to meet the community where they’re at, it’s not always easy or comfortable to go seeking out resources and done having more resources out there are culturally, that have cultural humility. A lot of times, that cultural humility or understanding where Native American people are coming from, and their current situations that they have to face on a daily basis really helps with that. That can care and being able to understand what their needs are.


Nathan Hofer  16:22

Awesome. Now, I have a I have a question come in. But before I pull that one up here, I wanted to ask, I guess kind of, I would say bluntly, but kind of kind of bluntly, you’ve talked about, you all kind of touched on isolation and anxiety in this time. So I’m curious, you know, specifically within the young adult population that we’re serving, have you seen a significant rise in requests for services or connection as we started the school this academic year for for, you know, higher education, but also, you know, just general, you know, secondary education, things like that, have you? Have you seen an increase in anything there? And if so, what’s that look like?


Angela Drake  17:02

Um, yeah, actually, some of your Lost&Found chapters have reached out to me directly, just asking, you know, what, what does it look like? What, what programs do you have, that we can work with you? To get our get our people together? How can we keep them connected? How can we, you know, how can we keep people good? reaching out to each other? So they’re, they’re not just by themselves? How can we, How can we work this? You know, some, some middle school and high school teachers have also reached out, you know, what, what does this look like? And how do we best help help our students, you know, which ones that are doing their virtual learning? versus, you know, in person learning, you know, how do we keep everyone still connected? And, and do that best for them? And, you know, we’re learning alongside them. Um, but, I mean, the best answer is, you know, keep in touch with them. And, um, you know, other communities that I work work with is, you know, just kind of like sports communities. What I say is, you know, when you have that kid out on the injury, do you forget about them the whole time that they’re out? No, you’re still kind of touching base with them periodically. So kind of treat this the same. It’s kind of what I what I’ve been recommending, you know, when when you’re when you’re, you know, hockey kids out with a broken arm, you’re not just leaving them on the sidelines the whole time, you’re still somewhat including them, still checking in with them. So let’s, let’s keep that kind of mentality. That’s, that’s kind of how I’ve been approaching it. You know, still touch base with them, make sure they’re okay from time to time check in.


Nathan Hofer  18:55

Good job Lost&Found chapters anyway, like,



it says amber and I get I would echo a lot of what Angela would did say, I would say from here at Avera, we have seen an increase, like I said, as compared to typical number of people who are reaching out seeking either outpatient or inpatient services. What I would also say, though, is that when we look at national trends, I’m concerned by the number of people who are struggling who haven’t reached out for help. I think there’s a lot of people that right now, when they begin to talk about some of the anxiety that they’re feeling or some of the isolation that they’re feeling. A lot of times those feelings are being minimized by saying that, again, everybody’s anxious right now or a lot of us are struggling. But I think there’s definitely people out there that it’s gone beyond just the discomfort of this and really gotten to a point where it’s affecting their ability to function, and they’re struggling with relationships or they’re struggling academically. And that’s what concerns me is that in this pandemic, in some ways, because we’ve all experienced a sense of loss or certainly change. I’m concerned by the number of people who maybe feel like their issue hasn’t reached a level where they need to reach out for help. And I would just really encourage people that, especially if it seems that you’re struggling with sleeping, struggling academically struggling with relationships, that this is the time to reach out, because there is help available.


Sheri Nelson  20:24

Yes, absolutely. I agree with that. And yeah, knowing that there are still people out there that need that assistance, who are not reaching out, just letting them know that there is that help available? And I think especially with students, kind of that uncertainty of, do we have to go online? do online learning? Or are we going to be in person and get that the risk of exposure to COVID-19? There’s a lot of concern surrounding that. And some people have a difficult time learning, just online. And so there’s issues with grade with with their grades with depression, anxiety, all of that, that we’ve we’ve talked about.


Angela Drake  21:16

Hey, Sheri, it’s one of the biggest questions I get when I talk to people, is if I call 211, what happens? And are they just gonna send people to come in with me away? And that’s their biggest fear, right? I, they just gonna come and take me for my family because they think I’m crazy or whatever. So what happens when somebody calls 211, because they’re having a rough time, or they’re scared, or they’re just really anxious? And so what happens when, if I call to unwind? I’m just having a really rough day? And I don’t know if I’m okay. But I know I’m not okay. But what happens when I call?


Sheri Nelson  21:57

Yeah, that is a great question, Angela, I’m glad you brought that up. Because there is that concern, if someone were to call and be in crisis that we automatically call the police. We do not do that. We — 74% of the calls that people make, who are struggling with suicide, we handle that, we work with that person to make sure that they’re safe, we’ll do a suicide risk assessment with them and a safety plan with them. And then we also follow up with them within 24 hours to make sure that they are still doing okay, we also give them referrals to Avera or whatever is the most convenient for them at that time. Also of people, we get a lot of people that are just in general just need to talk. So we have a lot of people call in where we have listening and support. And we just are here for them to listen to them. And sometimes it’s easier to talk about things if it’s someone that you don’t know, but also know that there is we have professional staff on the phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week that anyone can call.


Angela Drake  23:20

Thank you.


Nathan Hofer  23:22

Awesome. And then and then Tosa, What is that? What have you seen as this as the start of the academic year has has happened with the different job because you’re serving a ton of people?


Tosa Two Heart  23:35

Yeah, and it’s hard because I am not directly connected to the schools. I know some schools are just now starting. What I can tell you is that since especially this summer, are Connecting with Our Youth project with our Support Navigators program has had a lot of they’re busy, very busy meeting with youth, helping them and they serve youth who are at risk for suicide. So their youth that they serve run, or those who have already are already in that harder place to be in. With several of our communities, we’ve seen an increase in crises and the communities with youth and adults. Whether this is related directly with academic year starting I’m not sure. One thing that we’re trying to do in Rapid City are what we are starting is a native community response team so that we can better able to, we can be there when there is crisis in the community, whether it’s suicide or other behavioral crises. There’s definitely a lot of concerns that we are working to respond to. But again, I’m not. I’m not in the space of like, trends with the school, school starting. So I hope I hope that’s an okay answer.


Nathan Hofer  25:11

Oh, that’s a great answer. No, it’s, you know, it’s it’s awesome to hear from all of you and your different perspectives. And it really fits in with this question that came in. So this is from Thad, Thad Giedd. He also is one of the folks who helped put together that super cool video at the front end. So good job, Thad and PINStudios, but he that asks, you know, what, what have been some of the best or most valuable collaborations that you’ve experienced? And I know an aspect like mental health, perseverance and suicide prevention is a group effort effort with a diversity of services, we’re have rewarding collaborations taking place, and where’s there an opportunity for more. So I will pull this down, because it’s taken up a lot of our screen Thad, how insensitive, and then I’ll add you all, you all start answering.


Sheri Nelson  26:01

I can start, um, I think we have wonderful collaboration with the colleges in South Dakota and working with, you know, just all of us on this panel colleges are working with and so that’s great to make sure that they have those resources available to them. Another thing and of course, like I said, we have a database full of information. So we oftentimes are referring people to get the help that they need. And so and vice versa. So, you know, having that collaboration and surrounding people with the support that they need is vital. When we’re talking about mental illness and suicide. It’s just not not one person can do this alone. It takes a team of people, and we have a suicide prevention task form our task force. And in that task force it we have a lot of different members throughout the community that we come together and we work on suicide prevention in our community. Just last week, we went out to visit the gun shops to educate them on suicide prevention and what to look out for. Angela can speak to this she is a part of the task force. So we have a lot of mental health aspects to the task force, mental health, collaborators, law enforcement, churches, and colleges to help with looking at suicide prevention and mental health. I’ll let someone else talk.


Tosa Two Heart  27:58

With Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board. I think collaboration is just our nature, working with the tribes of Great Plains, but with our native suicide prevention programs. We have these huge community collaborative efforts with each one. And I’ve just seen that work in so many ways, like with our connecting with our youth program, we have like He Sapa collaborative, where agencies and stakeholders across Rapid City come together once a month and all of them help support the work connecting with our youth is doing. And then with our Connect Native Connections program and with the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. We’re working closely with the Crow Creek, Sioux tribal schools and the Fort Thompson IHS to constantly see where are the gaps and resources and what can we do to support that, for example, learning from Fort Thompson IHS, our youth who have behavioral health appointments have a high no show rate. So one of the things that we’re able to do is provide transportation to youth or help them get connected to their telehealth appointments. So we are trying to do what we can to reduce those barriers to get services. And so, oh, and then we’re continuing to collaborate with other community partners in how we can enhance the services that are already available.


Amber Reints  29:50

I would echo very similar to what has already been shared. I do think within mental health, what we all realize as respective organizations is not one of us can do this alone. So I think there’s lots of great opportunities that we’ve all been a part of where we’ve been able to work with other organizations. Here at a Vera, for example, when patients discharged, we have a collaboration with the helpline, that where they do some of our follow up calls. There’s just many examples, Zero Suicide, we recently did an opiod grant with the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen group as well. So there’s countless examples that we could give, what I would say, and I think it’s important for people to understand is that organizations I believe in, especially in South Dakota, work really well together to continue to try to make sure that we’re filling the gaps, where we still see within the mental health spectrum.


Angela Drake  30:49

So yeah, you know, being part of, you know, the coalition with the helpline, and with the VA, also, and then I’m able to, as part of the national organization with AFSP, tap into different communities throughout the country, and what they’re doing and what’s working there, as well. So getting different ideas from everywhere, of different opportunities to bring into our communities as well. Just just picking up things, you know, our hope signs that we’re putting in everybody’s yards, if you’ve, if you’ve not seen them yet, and you want one, let me know. But they’ve been super powerful to have around, just reminding people how to reach out, you know, just little things that we can do is just to keep suicide prevention, and, and hope everywhere. So, you know, being able to collaborate, gets everybody somewhere. It’s not one person’s job, it’s all of our jobs, to keep people safe, and to keep spreading help everywhere we can go.


Nathan Hofer  31:58

I agree. And, you know, I, I love being able to collaborate with with all your organizations as well, it’s been, you know, I feel like as I say, often lost in power we we are oftentimes where there’s the connectors were the bridge, and we get to get people from one point to another, to where they get the help they need. And working with all of you is definitely a blessing. And I’m not the only one who thinks that. And Kelly here says this is a wonderful group doing great work. And I think that’s awesome. And also, Nick, Nick has a kind of a follow up question for you, Sheri, you know, where the gun when you were visiting gun shops, were they receptive to learning and advocating to their customers about about that? That’s it? That’s a wonderful question. Thanks for asking that.


Sheri Nelson  32:45

Yeah, that’s a great question. I felt for the most part that people were receptive, and asked us lots of questions, and we really engaged in that conversation. And, you know, wanted to learn more and wanted to, to help any way that they can. And so we’re going to also do follow up with them to even to give everyone at their gun shops, all of the employees there to give them additional training, and working with them in that way as well.


Nathan Hofer  33:25

Love that. that is excellent. Um, you know, moving moving right along, though, you know, we Gosh, I wish we had known watch a three hour video, but man was just keep it going, you know, rest of the day, till six o’clock, there’s just going to be us in here. Sorry, Heidi in the background, you got to hang out. But, you know, I do, I do want to know, what are some of the challenges that you and your organization are really facing, internally that you’re seeing moving forward? But also, what are those challenges that you’re seeing in the community? And and do you have ways to, to meet some of those that are new or different, or, you know, the same, but we want to learn more about them.


Amber Reints  34:14

This is Amber and I can start, what I would say that I see is a big struggle still is just helping people to understand what resources are available. I think so often people hear that there’s a shortage of mental health providers, and certainly in some some areas, I don’t want to minimize some of the concern with that. But what I would say is with telemedicine, and just again, from what you can see on this call, the efforts and work that’s being done, there’s a lot of different ways that people can connect. And I love what AFSP is doing with sending that message of hope. Because to me, my biggest concern is that people are not aware of the resources. And secondly, that at times, they’re not aware that hope still exists and that they can fight through this. And I think those are the struggles that we continue to see and the message that needs to continue to be shared.


Sheri Nelson  35:08

Yeah, I agree with Amber with that point. You know, we often say 211 is the starting point, because we can then refer people to get that help that they need. And, you know, sometimes there are those people that feel like, you know, they’re so down, that they feel like that they can’t be helped, but they still reach out. And so that does show that hope. But I think all of us do a really good job of letting people know that there is help available, they just need to, you know, dial that number and get connected with that. And, you know, as, as part of our trainings, we also let people know that, you know, anyone can help someone who is in crisis, or dealing with mental health issues or suicide, it’s just having that conversation with them, knowing those warning signs, and letting them know that there is hope. And there is help out there and available for them.


Angela Drake  36:24

You know, often when I’m teaching a class or giving a presentation, I asked the question, you know, raise your hand, if you would take a friend to get help. Right. And everyone in the room raises their hand, if they would feel comfortable to take a friend, and to get mental health care. No problem. They’ll march their friend right in and not think twice. And then I asked them to keep their hand up if they would feel comfortable, to go in themselves to get help. And I think that’s, that’s the hardest part, how do we give ourselves the grace to take ourselves in? We have no problem and we wouldn’t judge our friend. But we judge ourselves, and we’re worried about others judging us. So we just have to get over that. And so I think that’s, that’s the number one problem. Number two is we have to learn that, you know, as my grandmother told me, you know, the good Lord gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We have to learn that when, when we’re listening, when somebody has a story to tell, we’re there to listen, we’re not there to give them advice, or judge them or tell them what to do. We’re just there to listen. And we need to hear their story. And we’re not professionals. We’re not there to fix them. We can take them to professionals if they need it. But we’re just there to listen. And let them know that they’re not alone. And just as we wouldn’t be there to put a cast on their broken arm. We’ll take them to professional to get them the help they need. But we can sure listen. So those are the things that we need to remember when somebody somebody needs us. Two ears. We’re not professionals, we’re not there to fix them. especially young college kids, especially high school kids, they listen to their friend that may be struggling and they feel like it’s their job to fix them. And then they’re carrying this heavy burden, that they may already be struggling as well. And they feel like it’s their job to fix the friend. And that’s a lot. That’s a lot to hang on to and to carry. Just now look at my face right now. It is not your job to fix your friend. You don’t have those kinds of skills, and it’s not your job. They need professional help. They need somebody that can truly help them. So listen, understand, but it’s not your job to fix them. Take them to get the help that they need. It’s not your job.


Tosa Two Heart  39:10

There’s a few challenges right now. One of the biggest challenges that comes to mind is social distancing, well being being able to provide programming and direct services. Um, I think one thing we’ve seen is the virtual, the virtual connections aren’t always going to be the best connection for those who are struggling. A lot of times they need that face to face and it’s hard, it’s hard because as you know, there’s a lot of cultural practices that usually go on during the summer and there there are cultural practices as well as a means of prevention, healing. And it’s hard to continue to do that when we can’t gather, when we have to practice social distancing for safety. And so I think that’s been really hard for a lot of people because they use those. They use culture as prevention and as a protective factor.  Um, another thing that’s been hard for our I mean, just in the work that I’m doing is that we’re as a profession professionals, and nonprofit, and even with those unsung heroes in the community, everyone’s always stretched so thin. It’s, there’s so much to do, and not enough time and not enough people or resources. But I think that’s the constant. And then I guess socially, it’s the continue continuing to try to get to those roots of historical trauma and changing the perceptions of and dialogue I noticed in the past. Like, recently, there’s been a lot of mis, I mean, there’s a lot of mistrust of different resources and trying to get people to understand that, there are resources that the resources are there to help you and to, again, like what Angela said, is, you don’t have to be alone, you don’t have to carry this burden, but that there is help out there. And then I think the another hard part is that those who live very, in a very rural area, how do we get them professional help when they’re going through crises? Sometimes those resources are really hard to find, or it’s hard to get connected. I mean, thankfully, we have the Helpline and those resources, but again, having that personal face to face, someone to make sure that you’re okay, and understand how to help, and not judge is really important. So just getting more education, and resources out there to bridge those gaps.


Nathan Hofer  42:24

Yeah, that’s a that’s the thing, isn’t it right now to this, you know, my, my wife and I were talking not just the other day about, you know, like, Can you imagine going through a global pandemic, you know, like, 15 years ago, even, you know, just how, how isolating that would be, but still, how isolating it is to just, this is the depth of most of our interactions right here, and and how hard that is. So, it’s just a, it’s a 2020 is a weird year. We’ll just say that and leave it at that.  But as we talked about, yes, Angela, as we talked about, you know, these issues that we’re facing, I don’t really see them going away, per se, and definitely not anytime soon. So, you know, our whole theme of today is talking about the future of mental health in our region. So what are your thoughts about what’s coming, coming down the pipeline? What are some things that we that you think we should be preparing for as a general community to support others, but also, what are maybe some cool things that you have coming up or initiatives or events or activities that are coming up that we should all be looking out for as well?


Angela Drake  43:39

Well, it is Suicide Prevention Month. So I think we all probably have a lot going on. Suicide Prevention Week is coming up next week. Um, so we have a lot of social media stuff happening. We You know, a lot of activity is going on there. I know I have some stuff planned with Lost&Found groups. Yay. We also have our walks here in South Dakota, we have two of them happening actually social distancing in person and also with some virtual components. So whatever your comfort level is, they’re here on and Sioux Falls are happening in-person with virtual components, Aberdeen will be just virtual. So watch for that this year. So here on is on the 12th Sioux Falls is on the 26th We’re excited to to have those happening. Many people reached out and just really wanted some in person events happening. And we were able to come up with some ways to do them social distancing with with some big virtual components, so we’re excited to have those. We’ve got our hope signs. If you’re interested in having one in your yard, we have them for pickup and/or delivery. So feel free to reach out to us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, you know all the things that way, we can get you hooked up with those. We also have our day at the barrel house on the 21st. So come see us there. And we will have pickup for your walk t shirts and beads, then, as well, you know, and just really, you know, stay on top of us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all the things that way. And you know, Nathan’s helping us out with some virtual stuff for our walks. So I’m making him


Nathan Hofer  45:32

Sorry about that.


Angela Drake  45:34

Yeah, making him work for it, and then Lost&Found is coming to join us at the Sioux Falls walk as well, they’re bringing a team. And then I’m going to go visit Lost&Found, I believe, at SDSU in October, we’re going to do some stuff there. So and then some other groups, some other schools are rushing out to set up some other things as well. So I’m excited. You got some great kids. Because, you know, they could be my kids. So, um, you know, and just working with any communities that we can so. Tosa, I’d love to come on your way too, let me now.


Sheri Nelson  46:24

Well, the Helpline Center has a lot of different things going on for Suicide Prevention Week. And I know Lost&Found is reached out to us as well, we have we are going to be talking messages of hope downtown on Philips Avenue. And we have some college kids joining us which will be great. We are going to social distance and and write those messages of hope for Suicide Prevention Week. We also have a online presentation with our speaker Desiree Stage. And that presentation will be on World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, from seven to eight and it is a free event. But we do need people to register for that. Desiree has lived experience that she will be talking about. So she also has opened up what she calls Live Through This. And so what she does is she works with art. She is a photographer and helps to share the story of people who have attempted suicide and gives them a voice and so she is going to be talking about that it’s going to be a great event. So you can go to Helpline Center website and register for that so we have space available for everyone since it is online. We will also be having hope stickers that a lot of different businesses throughout Sioux Falls area especially such as Flyboy Donuts, Scooters, Avera pharmacy, Lewis pharmacy, so there are going to put those stickers on their cups of coffee or on merchandise on their bags just to make people aware that it is Suicide Prevention Week and there is hope out there and available to them. So we encourage you go and get a cup of coffee. Go ahead and send us a snapshot with the whole sticker and include Helpline Center in that so.


Nathan Hofer  49:06

And just real quick. First off, Sheri, You shouldn’t have Why do you like Wendy have a computer? I just


Sheri Nelson  49:12

Oh yeah. And there you go.


Nathan Hofer  49:18

Share the event link in there and I also tossed in the link to your event helpline center.org slash live through this so Wendy, I know you’re out there you Okay, I’m sorry. Thank you.


Amber Reints  49:32

This is Amber at Avera a couple of different initiatives that we’re focusing a lot on I mentioned this our concern for children and adolescents right now so and the teachers in the school system so starting October, we’ll be launching our Friday Forum series again, which is actually educational series throughout the that we offer throughout the region for people to be able to log in, of course this year with a pandemic it will all be virtually which we’re actually excited about because we feel like hopefully it will be able to bring in more people as well. The second thing that we’ll be also doing is last year, we collaborated with Children’s Home Society and developed a book, A New Norm. And we went into about 100 different schools throughout the region last year and then had to go on pause because a pandemic, but we’re, now we’re going to go out and begin that tour again. So Tom and Tammy Roberts have done a phone, done an amazing job of going out and sharing that book. But the reason why we really want to make sure that we’re out right now is we think that book is a really good tie into just what some of the kids are maybe experiencing with COVID-19. So we’ll be starting though the tour with that book, again, here, starting in October.


Tosa Two Heart  50:45

With Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, we are doing a campaign for the month of September, staff have volunteered to make yard signs of hope. So personalized messages of encouraging words, and those of the staff houses here in Rapid City, I’m hoping, Well, it’s kind of like injecting those personal messages so that people driving around can see them. We’re also creating some videos with messages of love to those out there. And those are being created by or those are being filmed by community members and our staff. And then we’re also going to be posting some resources on our Facebook, please follow our Facebook as we have another virtual workshop regarding trauma and equine therapy coming up. And then later on in a month, we’re gonna be doing a film workshop for primarily that youth in Crow Creek, but all are invited to attend, so that they’ll be able to create their own PSAs and messages to their community. And in the Crow Creek community, we’re also doing a couple of virtual walks as well, one in remembrance of those who are lost, and then one to see the yard signs made in that community words of encouragement.


Nathan Hofer  52:23

That is awesome. Obviously, you saw if you didn’t see Angela, she got real pumped about that, the messages for hope.  You know, I want to we’re kind of nearing the end of our time together here. But I wanted to say, you know, for Lost&Found, we’re going to share some of our vision for the future tonight at six. But I will say one thing very bluntly, and that I see the future of mental health as being very collaborative. And this panel in and of itself shows that we’re not alone in that and that you if you’re watching on that you are not alone, either. So we want to make sure that we’re you know, we are we are working together we are in this space. This is a problem, this is a an issue that we all are invested in, in the mental health and well-being of others and focusing in on suicide prevention and mitigating self-harm. So this is one thing I can say is that I think we are definitely moving towards more collaboration, more teamwork, more things that are moving forward together. And with that note, that that’s something I’m excited about. I look forward to it. So as we end up end our time here, I want to ask you a one last question to share. Well, it’s a two-parter. So it’s a one, two questions, seven questions. So I’d love for you to just share something that you’re really that’s giving you a lot of hope and optimism for the future. But also, you know, we talked about resilience here. So maybe at anything that you have to say to someone to give them some, some tips or tricks to be more resilient. As, like I said, we’re in a we’re in a weird time of being but we’re all experiencing it together. And we all need to learn how to be even more resilient than we ever imagined. So those are my two questions, hope, resilience. Whoever wants to start.


Sheri Nelson  54:16

I’ll start. I think that there is the thing that gives me hope is knowing through this panel, you can see that there is a lot of help available to people, and especially with kids with students, they’re gonna, if they’re struggling, they’re going to reach out to their friend versus another adult. And so I know that we have gone into the colleges and help them as well as Angela and everyone here. Help them to recognize those warning signs and how to help someone in a crisis, and where to get that help and take them for help. So just knowing that there is that help available out there for everyone gives me hope. And knowing that recovery is possible for people dealing with mental health, even if they feel like they’re at their lowest point right now, things can get better. And I think a lot of people may be feeling that right now with a pandemic, and everything that’s going on. But we still need to stay connected. You know, and become creative with that. Through virtual trainings, virtual things like this, I’ve had seen people, you know, just connecting outside and keeping their social distance, you know, just inspiring other people. And so that gives me hope. And just the fact that all of us are here and willing to help and that we can’t do this alone. And we’re doing this all together. I don’t know if I answered both your questions, but that’s all I got.


Nathan Hofer  56:17

I feel good about it.


Amber Reints  56:22

To answer your questions. What gives me hope is just that there’s a lot of passionate people out there that want to continue to work together to save lives. And to me, that is what is going to allow us to continue to meet the needs fill the gaps so that everybody can get the mental health that they need. My recommendation for resiliency right now is if I could pass out scrips for self care for everyone, and they fill their scrip, just like they fill their antibiotics, that would be my recommendation. And with that, right now, a lot of our schedules have been disrupted. So this is our time to start putting into our schedule our new routines, how am I going to take care of myself. And for some of us, that might be five minutes of meditation. For others, how I’m going to take care of myself today is to make the appointment for the therapist that I’ve been delaying for a long time. So my hope is just that everybody who is listening would pause and ask themselves, how can I best take care of myself today, and then act on that.


Tosa Two Heart  57:33

I think what is always really inspiring and what makes me hopeful is just everywhere, I think everywhere, there are those passionate people who will dedicate their lives to this work, especially those grassroots leaders. And so knowing that there are individuals out there who will, you know, answer a call at 3am and sit with you through the pain. I think that is amazing. In terms of like words of encouragement, you know, I would, I’d want to tell all of those Native youth out there and even native adults struggling so that you don’t walk alone. And like Sheri said, this time is not going to last forever, you’re not going to feel the way you do forever. Just keep fighting and moving forward. And don’t stop until you get the hope you need. Don’t give up.


Angela Drake  58:44

Um, my message of hope is, you know, no matter where you’re at, no matter where you’re sitting today, doesn’t mean that that’s where you are forever. Um, there’s always help. No matter how little it is today. It can grow. It always grows. It’s, it’s like a seed and you know, manure on the farm is real. And no matter how much of that manure you’re going through today, that little seed of hope that you’re planting is gonna get bigger. We come from a community of a lot of farmers a lot of doesn’t mean you have to put your boots on everyday and doesn’t mean you have to pull them up harder. But the “s” we’re going through, is gonna is going to fertilize that seed and that helps going to grow. So we’re going to come out of this a lot stronger. And like Amber said, we’re going to rebuild out of this and so the habits that we’re putting in to take care of ourselves need to start now. Few of us break promises to everyone else. They’re, how many promises to ourselves do we break? That’s something that I started is to take a look at the promises I make myself. And how many of those do I break. I broke a lot of promises to myself, but I rarely break promises to anyone else. So I took a step back and started looking at the promises I make myself to take care of myself too. So I’m careful about the promises I make myself now. And I put those, those are pretty serious promises too. So make sure you’re taking care of yourself, because we put our oxygen mask on first. So thank you, thank you all for the work that you do. I appreciate each and every one of you.


Nathan Hofer  1:00:59

This is a great group. And I am so thankful to be able to, you know, just be here with you today. And not only just today to know that we’ll be working together and connecting in the future. It’s, it truly is an honor. And, you know, as we’re closing on our time, I just want to say, I have posted links to every one of these places, their websites, their Facebook pages in the comments. So those can be found out that’s a B, if I run away, don’t be disturbed. But I’ve put all those in the Facebook comments. So if you want to connect with these folks, feel free to do so using using those links. And then if you’re looking to connect with us a little bit more with Lost&Found, follow us on Instagram or Facebook, @resilienttoday. And if you want to go to our website, it’s just that, resilienttoday and then put a “.org” on the end. But get rid of that outside that @ won’t get you anywhere. And then lastly, one more time, I do want to thank our sponsor for voices of resilience on the Astrup Family Foundation and American Bank and Trust. We’re really thankful that you’ve chosen to invest in this and that we’ve we get to have some wonderful conversations with people doing great things as we learn together how to be more resilient.  And once again, I want to thank you for for being here and I hope that the rest of you out there will be checking in today at six and then next week we have it’s it is National Suicide Prevention Week and we have speaker coming on our Voices of Resilience at 2pm on next Thursday, Tammy Joy Lane who’s going to be talking about her experience with with suicide prevention and that in her life, so, excited for it excited to be here with you all and that’s all I have. So thank you again everyone, and we’ll see you around.


Amber Reints  1:02:40

Thank you


Sheri Nelson  1:02:42

Thanks Nathan and I love you guys. You guys do great work and I enjoy working with you.



Back at all ya. Bye now.


Angela Drake  1:02:53

Appreciate ya.


Supporting the mental health of BIPOC

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Since 2008, July has been recognized as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States, designed to cast a light on the mental health disparities and resource challenges facing marginalized communities throughout the country. Lost&Found, alongside other national mental health organizations like Mental Health America, has begun calling July “BIPOC Mental Health Month” to recognize the real intent behind the month—a fairer portrayal of the mental health impacts on those who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color.

Why does this distinction matter?

Because our language validates the experiences of people whose identity may be different from our own.

Black and Native American mental health is affected by multi-generational traumas these communities have experienced and continue to experience. And yet, they are different and deserve distinction. People of Color is a broader term, but it encompasses the unique mental health experiences of non-White communities in our country, especially for new immigrants. Even if broad, focusing on “BIPOC” mental health gives us more precise language to discuss specifically how racism and systems of oppression in our country’s past and present has created trauma and has resulted in mental health conditions and illness.

Especially in South Dakota, it is absolutely imperative to consider the mental health resources needed to serve the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota sovereign nations within our state. Suicide disproportionately impacts Indian Country, especially young adults ages 14-35. The trauma and mental health needs of our Native American communities cannot be left “on mute,” and we need to recognize and act on opportunities to raise awareness, create partnership, and take action.

And yet, my friends, I will tell you: This still isn’t enough.

If 2020 has shown us anything, we have a long way to go toward building systems, policies, and programs that give every person in our country a fair chance at mental health. Today, I encourage you to think about what it means to be an ally and advocate for BIPOC mental health year-round. Please join Lost&Found in finding new ways to break down trauma, take action against racism, and elevate BIPOC voices.

A few things we’re doing right now be better allies:

  • Engaging in new partnerships to support BIPOC & LGBTQ+ communities: Lost&Found is currently collaborating with a pair of institutions in South Dakota and Minnesota to expand programs in support of Indigenous and LGBTQ+ communities. More details to come! 
  • Elevating BIPOC & LGBTQ+ identities through Voices of Resilience: Our Voices of Resilience program on Facebook Live highlights the stories of individuals in our communities and the ways they find resilience in their daily lives. Recently, Cameryn Friesz and Michaela Seiber highlighted how their respective identities have affected their mental health and the mental health of our community.


  • Actively seeking additional BIPOC voices on our Board of Directors: 3 at-large positions on our Board of Directors are open, and we are actively seeking BIPOC voices to fill those roles to help us better understand and partner with organizations serving Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color in our community. If you are interested in serving on the board, please contact us

If you’re feeling uncomfortable with the question of “am I doing enough?”, know that we are, too. We won’t always have it right, but it is the constant listening and effort that teaches and changes how we learn, grow, and adapt. We hope you’ll join us on the journey.

The impressive artwork at the top of this page was created by graphic designer April Moralba. Find more of her creations here



Support the Campaign for Campus Mental Health

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There’s never been a more important time to give.

Generous donations from T. Denny Sanford and Bill & Susan Sands to support Lost&Found’s Campaign for Campus Mental Health have created an opportunity to reimagine how we end suicide for young adults in our state, region, and country. We are over halfway toward our $200,000 goal for 2020 and on our way to impacting thousands of lives.

Now, we need your help.

Through the three-year Campaign for Campus Mental Health, Lost&Found aims to reach 25,000 students with evidence-based programs and resources that increase personal resilience. Last year, Lost&Found piloted new resilience programs that reached 2,200 students on five college campuses in South Dakota. We also ramped up groundbreaking mental health research services, surveying or interviewing over 1,200 students, faculty, and staff to help campus administrators address student mental health needs more quickly and effectively. In 2020, Lost&Found will unveil a new peer advising program designed to connect students with needed conversation and access to mental health resources, as well as expand resilience programs to new campuses in South Dakota and Minnesota.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the future less predictable, and few of us like to make financial decisions in this kind of uncertainty. But this pandemic has also highlighted the critical need for Lost&Found’s work. We have shifted our programming entirely online, with virtual events and a strong social media presence that is encouraging and connecting people even while they are distant from one another. The progress is promising: we have reached over 250,000 unique users since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. We know that getting through this pandemic will be a marathon, not a sprint, and we are committed to supporting all people through the mental health challenges that many of us will face.

We are asking for your support to continue this work, build on it, and leave a lasting impact on the mental health of thousands of young adults. Here are some ways you can help:

  • Join the FOUNDers Club and set up a recurring donation to Lost&Found. Your monthly, quarterly, or annual donations provide the lifeblood to our mental health programs and resources. Learn more about giving options here.
  • Join Lost&Found’s Virtual First Friday race team. Run or walk for Lost&Found by registering for the Downtown Sioux Falls Virtual First Friday Race series. Lost&Found receives $10 for every participant who registers with our team, and the team with the most participants will receive an additional donation. Register here
  • Keep in touch: Make sure you’ve signed up to receive our newsletters, and follow us on social media: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube

There’s never been a more critical moment to support mental health. Give today and help us double the impact created by the incredible generosity of T. Denny Sanford and Bill & Susan Sands.

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Lost&Found delivers resilience education and mental health resources through student-led campus chapters at the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, University of Sioux Falls, Dakota Wesleyan University, and Augustana University. Founded in 2010, Lost&Found takes a data-driven, strengths-based approach to suicide prevention efforts, delivering research tools that allow campus administrators to quickly understand and respond to student mental health needs with programs, policies, and people.