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Holiday Gift For Children With Mental Health Problems

December 20, 2006

Sioux Falls, SD - There's a new online gift available to South Dakota families with children facing mental, emotional or behavioral problems: a one-stop website to locate mental health services across the state.

Janet Kittams Lalley, with the South Dakota Help Line, worked to develop the "Online Mental Health Directory," which includes mental health agencies as well as a variety of therapists and psychiatrists.

"It is estimated that at least one-in-five children or adolescents have a serious mental health problem. So, it certainly is a concern that we need to address in South Dakota."

Dr. Susan Randall with South Dakota Voices for Children (SDVC) says help is available across the state, but many times parents don't know where to find it. She believes the directory is important because children everywhere have real and painful emotional and behavioral problems.

"These disorders are often a source of stress for the child, but they're also a source of stress for the family and the school circles within which the child moves. We also know that intervening early with mental health challenges is very important to supporting a child's recovery and nurturing their resilience and enabling them to return to success in their various endeavors."

The directory was prompted by a 2003 Mental Health Task Force report to the state legislature, and was spearheaded by the SDVC. It was funded by the WellMark Foundation and is hosted by South Dakota Strategy for Suicide Prevention at www.sdsuicideprevention.org.

David Law/Eric Mack, Public News Service - SD