Governor Noem challenges South Dakotans to check in on someone during Mental Health Awareness Month

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 6, 2024
Emily Richardt,

Governor Noem challenges South Dakotans to check in on someone during Mental Health Awareness Month


PIERRE – It’s easy to talk about the small stuff like the weather. But deeper conversations, about how someone is really doing, can be hard. That’s why Governor Kristi Noem has proclaimed May as Mental Health Awareness Month, asking all South Dakotans to the take time to check in on someone. Ask how they are really doing.


“As community members, friends, and, of course, family members, we all play a part in one another's mental health and well-being,” said Governor Noem in her proclamation. “Whether we share resources, encourage others to seek help, or simply are there for someone when they need us, we can instill hope and encourage others to reach out when they need it most.”


Starting the conversation is the first step. When attempting to initiate, do so when you know both you and the person whom you are concerned about have adequate time so that you might avoid having to cut short dialogue that is helpful to a person struggling in their mental health.


“Together we can make it easy to talk about the big stuff,” said Terry Dosch Executive Director to the South Dakota Council of Community Behavioral Health. “It’s important we remove the stigma from taking care of our mental health and talk about it in the same way we’d talk about going to a physician or taking medication for a physical illness.”


Here are some tips:

  • Ask. Ask if they are okay. Make sure you try not to accuse or blame them for your observations. A good way to do this is by using "I" statements. For example, instead of saying "You never hang out with us anymore, why is that?" you can say "I've missed hanging out with you recently, are you okay?" 
  • Listen. Give them your full attention, be empathetic, and acknowledge how they feel, even if you've never experienced the same feelings. If you have experienced mental health challenges, consider opening up and being vulnerable when talking about your own struggles so instead of feeling judged, the person feels safe being honest with you.
  • Encourage. Whether it's talking to family, other friends, or looking into therapy, encourage your friend to take action by connecting them to resources in their area.
  • Check in. Let them know you're there to help and that they can talk to you. If you get brushed off the first time, don't give up.


“Meaningful connections with others can serve as lifelines for individuals struggling in their mental health” said DSS Cabinet Secretary Matt Althoff. “By fostering relationships that encourage empathy, understanding, and active listening, South Dakotans can help create safe spaces where people can feel seen, heard, and supported. By encouraging open and candid conversations about mental health, we also promote compassion and make deepened connections within our communities.”


To find a community-based mental health provider in your area, visit Services can be in-person or via telehealth and financial assistance is available. If you are worried about your loved one and need immediate support, call or text 988 or chat online at with a trained crisis counselor. 


For additional tips on how to support someone, visit


Other resources:

South Dakota Council of Community Behavioral Health:


The South Dakota Department of Social Services is dedicated to strengthening families to foster health, wellbeing, and independence. For more information, please visit