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Mental Health Panel | South Dakota Focus

During the May episode of South Dakota Focus, host Jackie Hendry discussed youth mental health trends with a panel of local experts. The discussion closed with a review of additional resources for parents and other adults who want to support the kids and teens in their life.

Jackie Hendry: “For those adults that are listening and want to understand what they might be looking for that is outside the realm of normal teenage thoughts and feelings. What passes that threshold into something that is a cause for concern and intervention? Or any other additional resources that you would like to highlight kind of your closing thoughts. Dr. Jackmon, we’ll start with you.”

Wallace Jackmon, PhD, Clinical Psychologist with Avera Medical Group: “They can find resources on National Alliance of Mental Health, on NAMI. SAMHSA, the substance abuse mental health government agency. They can find resources there. Obviously, reaching out to any clinicians or Avera can be of benefit. I think there's multiple directions folks can go with that.

But as far as parents [and] what things that they should be looking for. I mean, obviously, depression--when we look at depression, there's nine symptoms of depression and one of those is suicidal ideation, but there's eight other symptoms. And that includes but is not limited to, you know, their concentration is off. Their eating/sleeping patterns are different. Their self-esteem is decreasing. They're more irritable or moody. Those would be the kinds of things that folks might want to look for from an adult perspective for their children.”

Jackie Hendry: “Dr. Oyen?”

Kari Oyen, PhD, Director of School Psychology Program at USD: “First of all, you know, echoing what Dr. Jackmon says, I think it's the combination of like irritability, but then also, you know, if we are doing a lot of withdrawal. Or maybe a hallmark that I would hear from a lot of parents is like, ‘my son or daughter loved to do…’ whatever it is. Maybe it's football or, ‘I was in the art club. I was thriving in that environment,’ and now 'I can't even get them to leave their room.' Or, ‘something that I once had pleasure in I've really lost pleasure in it.’ And I think that that is a hallmark of something else going on.

Now to touch on some of the things related to social media. One of the things that can be such a protective factor for teens is really having someone to help you make sense out of all this. So, first of all, perhaps we can try to limit some of the doom-scrolling, which is endless hours of scrolling, scrolling, scrolling content. But also having space and time to connect with your teen to help them make sense out of what they're seeing and help them to, you know, maybe make a distinction between perception and reality. So we can try to have some of those conversations.

And the other thing I would say to parents is don't be afraid to have these conversations.

I think sometimes we fear our own fear response to our children having a hard time, [and that] can make it very difficult to have these conversations. But if we come to our kids as calm regulated adults saying that we want to help you, you'd be surprised at how much progress we can make.
Kari Oyen, PhD

I guess more than anything, I think it's great to get comfortable talking about these things. If you want some tips or some conversation starters, South Dakota Suicide Prevention has great resources for you to talk to your teens about some of these things that can feel a little scary, but don't be afraid to have the conversation because sometimes it feels like we don't have it that it'll go away. I think that that's not serving our children as well as just talking about it.”

Jackie Hendry: “Erik Muckey, how would you like to close?”

Erik Muckey, CEO of Lost & Found: “More and more the biggest thing that we see, especially in the work that we do with peer mentorship, is that folks just may not always feel confident and equipped to have that conversation. And so what we try to offer is, you know, echoing Dr. Oyen, we’re a member of the suicide prevention work group for the State of South Dakota. So very much echo that, please go to the South Dakota Suicide Prevention website, you'll have a lot of resources to carry. From Lost & Found, we have a little framework that we use to say ‘we want to talk about mental health, use your EARS: engage, attend, reinforce, and see.’ Getting people into that behavior, understanding how do you have the conversation, but most importantly, how do you listen to somebody and give them that reinforcement and that ability to seek help? It's attached to the Let's Talk About Mental Health Guide that we share…

But then also on the hard end of that spectrum where you see folks experiencing suicide loss, there's a lot of resources in the community. And as a partner in that space, we really work closely with our partners in the eastern half of South Dakota with the Helpline Center and their support groups, which are now becoming more statewide available. Also the Front Porch Coalition in the Black Hills. Lost & Found offers as a program specifically focused at financial assistance for suicide loss survivors called Survivors Joining for Hope…It's open to anybody and most importantly we offer that direct sort of wraparound resource for a family to say if we're in the middle of suicide loss and a little bit of the crisis that goes along with it. We're happy to help be a connector to other resources in the community. So no matter what side of the spectrum you are in terms of mental health, suicide risk and suicide loss, we might have something for you.”

Additional Resources for Parents and Schools

Kari Oyen provided links to some additional resources following our panel conversation.

Jackie is based out of SDPB's Sioux Falls Studio.