Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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May 5,2017

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

PIERRE S.D. – This month, the Department of Social Services (DSS) is taking an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health, including being aware of risk factors that can lead to suicide and how to get help.

Dealing with a mental health concern can be overwhelming, says Department of Social Services Secretary Lynne Valenti, but it’s important to remember mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being. Mental illnesses are common and treatable, yet people experience symptoms of mental illnesses differently—some individuals engage in potentially dangerous behaviors when stressors exceed their ability to cope. With recent messages about suicide through the media and entertainment, such as the series “13 Reasons Why,” the department advises it is critical to know how to recognize the signs and symptoms and get help early.

“It is important to understand early symptoms of mental illness, and to know when certain behaviors are potentially signs of something more,” said Secretary Valenti. “It is okay to talk to your children, friends and relatives about suicide or other mental health concerns.”

Some behaviors to look for include, but are not limited to:

  • Talk of being a burden to others or having no reason to live
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Acting recklessly
  • Excessive spending or giving away prized possessions
  • Change in mood (depression, rage, irritability, anxiety)
  • Withdrawing from activities

“If you or someone you know is showing signs or symptoms of a mental illness or at risk behaviors, speak up and get help,” said Secretary Valenti. “Treatment does work and individuals are able to address mental health concerns with the help of trained mental health counselors.”

There are 11 community mental health centers across the state providing quality services and supports to adults and youth with mental health concerns. Services may be available at no charge or at a reduced rate for individuals who meet financial eligibility criteria. To find a community mental health center in your area, please visit For crisis situations, South Dakota has a Helpline Center available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or visit their website at

For more information about behavioral health services, please contact DSS Division of Behavioral Health at 605-773-3123, or online at