Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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June 9, 2011

Mental Health and the Missouri River Flood
How to relieve stress and when to get help

PIERRE, S.D. -- When an individual is exposed to a traumatic event, such as the Missouri River flood, it is important to be aware of how it can affect you personally.

“Most individuals affected by a large disaster like the Missouri River flood will show signs of stress; which is normal,” said Dennis Pfrimmer, CEO of Capital Area Counseling. “It is important to remind ourselves, friends, families and neighbors that over time the stress levels will decrease and that we need to help each other by monitoring our physical and mental health needs during and after the flood.”

What you, friends, families, neighbors should know:

  • Physical reactions to a disaster are normal and can include:
    • An increase or decrease in your energy and activity levels
    • Having trouble relaxing or sleeping
    • Stomach aches or diarrhea; headaches and other pains
    • Losing your appetite or eating too much
    • Sweating or having chills
  • Acknowledging feelings helps people recover
    • The next few weeks will be very busy meeting immediate needs
    • Just talking about your experience can be helpful
    • As soon as it feels comfortable, get back to the usual routine
    • Recall other times strong emotions were experienced and how they were resolved
  • Ask for help
    • Tell people that you are feeling anxious or fearful
    • Ask for time to collect your thoughts if needed
    • Ask for help in collecting insurance and resource information so you can make the best decisions
    • If you are feeling overwhelmed; ask for help
  • Focus on strengths and abilities
    • If you have a skill use it or offer to share it with others (organizing, cooking, communicating)
    • Spend time with family and friends
    • Look to your faith or spiritual supports
  • Accept help from the community
    • Accept dinner offered by a neighbor or community member or accept help with sandbagging or moving
    • City, county, state and federal agencies are here to help us all
  • People heal at their own pace
    • Shock, hopelessness, guilt, anger and confusion are all common in the face of a disaster
    • We each have different needs and different ways to cope

Capital Area Counseling is coordinating the local behavioral health (mental health and substance abuse) crisis response with support from surrounding communities and other statewide partners. Individuals and families who have been impacted by the flood and are dealing with stress, anxiety, fear and other behavioral health issues are encouraged to seek professional assistance. Counseling is currently available at no cost to those who are being impacted by this disaster in Pierre and Fort Pierre.

If you need help in coping with this disaster, please contact Capital Area Counseling today. All information is confidential. Individuals and families can also contact the South Dakota Department of Social Services’ Division of Community Behavioral Health toll free at 1-800-265-9684 for additional information on behavioral health issues.

  • Capital Area Counseling:
    Dennis Pfrimmer, LCSW
  • Phone: 605-224-5811 (during office hours) / 605-295-2311 (after office hours)
  • Locations: 803 East Dakota Avenue and 2510 East Franklin Street, Pierre, South Dakota
  • Website:

About Capital Area Counseling: Capital Area Counseling has been providing services since 1968. They are accredited by the State of South Dakota as a mental health, addiction treatment and child welfare agency. Capital Area Counseling has clinical staff available to serve children, youth, adults and seniors in the following counties: Buffalo, Haakon, Hughes, Hyde, Jones, Lyman, Potter, Stanley and Sully Counties.