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Mental Health

This page offers a collection of resources and information related to mental health that may be of use to educators and the general public.

Mental Health-Related Definitions
Commonly used terms related to mental health:
  • Mental Health: emotional, psychological, and social well-being of people of all ages from childhood through adulthood, affecting how people think, feel, and act. (CDC, 2021)
  • Trauma: an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual's functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being. (SAMHSA, 2019)
  • Trauma-Informed Approach: a program, organization, or system that adheres to the "4 R's": realize the widespread impact of trauma and pathways to recover; recognize trauma signs and symptoms; respond by integrating knowledge about trauma into all facets of the system; and resist re-traumatization of trauma-impacted individuals by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices. (Trauma Responsive Schools Theory of Change Toolkit V2, 2020)
  • Trauma-Informed School: everyone in the school has the viewpoint of a lens of understanding and commitment to the success of each student, particularly those who have experienced traumatic events. (Trauma Responsive Schools Theory of Change Toolkit V2, 2020)
  • Trauma-Responsive School: a school system that develops protocols and policies that address the safety of the whole students, staff, and community by putting these into practice in their daily interactions, seeking to increase the quality of relationships among administrators, staff, teachers, and students. (Trauma Responsive Schools Theory of Change Toolkit V2, 2020)
Prevention Resource Centers

Three Prevention Resource Centers provide regional support to students, parents, educators, community groups, community agencies, law enforcement, and any other interested entities looking for prevention resource materials and support. Each PRC has a resource library with videos, DVDs, books, CDs, brochures, and curricula available to the public for use. PRC staff are also able to provide training and education in the areas of prevention. To access a PRC's resource library, request training or technical assistance, contact the PRC that serves your region.

Project AWARE
The South Dakota Department of Education was awarded an $8.7 million Project AWARE grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The grant is a partnership with the South Dakota Department of Social Services - Division of Behavioral Health. The departments are partnering with school districts and community mental health centers to improve access to mental health services, train educational professionals, increase family and community awareness, and help youth develop healthy behavioral skills and mental wellness.
  • Project AWARE
  • No-cost trainings available to all South Dakota schools
    • NAMI Ending the Silence Program
      NAMI-SD (National Alliance on Mental Illness-South Dakota) offers a 50-minute program which is appropriate for middle and high school students. In the presentation, a young adult living with a mental illness tells their story about mental health challenges, including what hurt and what helped, and how they are living in recovery. A lead presenter also shares information that helps students understand mental health conditions and warning signs, as well as how to talk to caring adults to get help for themselves and their friends. To request a training, complete this form. Questions? Contact the DSS Division of Behavioral Health, 605-367-5236.
    • Trauma-informed Communities
      Schools and school districts may request trainings for educators or school communities by contacting the Advocacy and Prevention Program Director at the Children's Home Society (CHS) to provide the date, time, location, and desired training option. One or all options are available to districts. Virtual options are available. Tifanie Petro at Children's Home Society would be contacted to schedule a session at
    • Youth Mental Health First Aid
      Designed for adults who regularly interact with adolescents (teachers, administrators, coaches), this eight-hour program introduces participants to the risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. YMHFA meets the suicide awareness and prevention training requirement for educator certification. To request a Youth Mental Health First Aid training for your school, complete this form. Questions? Contact the DSS Division of Behavioral Health, 605-367-5236.
School-Based Mental Health Providers in South Dakota

School-based mental health providers include: school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, and community-based clinical mental health counselors and social workers. These professionals support each other while bringing unique training and expertise to address the academic, career, and social-emotional and behavioral needs of K-12 students.

South Dakota Prevention Framework

Multiple state agencies worked collaboratively to develop the South Dakota Prevention Framework to create common language and a process when doing prevention programming. It is also designed to guide prevention programming along the continuum of Good, Better, and Best.

Suicide Awareness and Prevention
Together, we can prevent suicide. Suicide is a leading cause of preventable death in South Dakota. The state had the 6th highest suicide rate in the nation in 2017. Suicide is a serious public health problem that can have harmful lasting effects on individuals, families, and communities. While its causes are complex and determined by multiple factors, the goal of suicide prevention is simple: reduce factors that increase risk (risk factors) and increase factors that promote resilience (protective factors).
South Dakota Regional Community Mental Health Centers
South Dakota's Community Mental Health Centers provide mental health services to youth and adults across the state. Services include screenings and assessments, case management, individual therapy, group therapy, and crisis intervention. Youth whose families meet programmatic and financial eligibility guidelines or who have considerable personal circumstances may qualify for state-funded services.
Student Wellness and Supports

The Office of Student Wellness and Supports provides assistance and resources for all students to learn, thrive, and grow. This office also strives to build strong connections and partnerships across South Dakota so educators can best support whole child needs involving social-emotional, academic, and career.

Go to Student Wellness and Supports page

211 Helpline Center

The Helpline Center connects people to resources and support. Staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Nutrition & Mental Health
Healthy gut, healthy mind! Learn more about how gut health influences mental health.

For more information on mental health, please visit the South Dakota Department of Social Services' Behavioral Health Service webpage.