Noem proclaims May as Mental Health Awareness Month

The Department of Social Services wishes to remind South Dakotans that help is always available through a variety of programs.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem budget address
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem delivers her budget address on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in the house chambers inside the state capitol in Pierre.
Mitchell Republic file photo

PIERRE – Gov. Kristi Noem proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month in South Dakota via the issuance of an executive proclamation.

The proclamation, signed Monday by Noem recognizes mental health as an important aspect of overall health that affects how people think, feel and act.

"One in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year," the proclamation reads, "and in South Dakota, 30,000 adults have a serious mental illness and 7,000 youth ages 12-17 have depression."

The proclamation furthers that good mental health is critical to the well-being of families, communities, schools and businesses while acknowledging a stigma exists around seeking help.

In a press release announcing Noem's proclamation, the Department of Social Services (DSS) said it's time to raise awareness of those living with mental health challenges, to reduce stigmas and to promote the resources available to help.


“Mental health affects all of us whether we are doing well, facing struggles or somewhere in between,” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill. “Our mental health impacts our physical, emotional and social well-being regardless of age.”

In early 2021, nearly 30% of adults in South Dakota reported symptoms of anxiety or depression and 112,000 adults were dealing with a mental health condition.

South Dakotans who received publicly funded mental health services reported increases in their social connectedness, mental health and well-being, according to DSS.

“It’s important to know that with effective treatment, individuals can recover and live happy, healthy, productive lives,” Gill said. “Help is available no matter where you live in South Dakota or what your financial situation is.”

DSS contracts with 11 Community Mental Health Centers across the state to provide mental health services to children adults with mental health challenges. If locality is a barrier, services can be provided via telehealth.

Mental health services are also offered to offenders incarcerated in state correctional facilities. Individuals in need of inpatient psychiatric treatment can receive services at Human Services Center in Yankton, the only state licensed specialty hospital.

If cost for community-based mental health services is a concern, financial help is available. The Behavioral Health Voucher Program offers funding assistance for behavioral health services for farmers and ranchers, people impacted by the natural disasters of 2019 and/or the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more about resource options, DSS encourages residents visit the Behavioral Health section of their website, or visit 605 Strong.


Anyone who wishes to access services over the phone can dial 211 to reach the Helpline Center. Program staff are trained to provide stress relief and handle mental health crises. The Helpline Center can also provide referrals to other resources.

For anyone struggling with a mental health challenge, crisis counseling is available 24/7 by dialing 1.800.273.8255 (TALK) or by texting CONNECT to 741741. All calls are completely confidential.

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