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‘You matter’: Mental Health Awareness Month

todayMay 8, 2024 2

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Mental health is important every day of the year, but this month it’s in the spotlight.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

Scott Wilson helps people get connected to the mental health resources they need.

He’s the 988 operations manager at the Helpline Center.

“It is that first place of contact that people can go to when they’re feeling overwhelmed,” Wilson said.

In the first three months of 2024, 988 received more than 2,900 calls, texts, and chats, many mental health related.

That’s up by more than 800 contacts over the same time period last year.

“There’s definitely a lot of people who are needing help, and I’m glad the number is getting more out there, so they know who to reach out to,” Wilson said.

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Dr. David Ermer is the clinical vice president of Avera Behavioral Health.

He’s also seen the need for mental health services go up.

“There’s an increased need for outpatient services. Our hospitalizations haven’t increased dramatically, but we’ve seen them gradually go up over the years,” Ermer said.

Ermer says while the stigma surrounding mental health is decreasing, it still exists.

“It’s an illness that affects a lot of people, and if you’re not impacted, you know somebody who is or someone in the family, so it’s really important to recognize symptoms of mental illness and know that there’s treatments out there. We can help people, and that’s the big message, we can help people,” Ermer said.

Wilson say he knows what it’s like to feel hopeless and alone.

He attempted suicide about 17 years ago in college.

That’s why he’s so passionate about helping people today.

“Reach out if you need it. There’s no reason to feel ashamed, there’s no reason to feel like you’re a failure. We’re not going to judge you. We just want to show you that you matter,” Wilson said.

Click here for more mental health resources.

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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