Report: Sioux Falls needs more mental health providers, education on existing resources
A new report about mental health services in Sioux Falls found the city has a lack of providers to deal with the community's needs, even as the stigma of seeking help decreases.
The report, released Tuesday by the Augustana Research Institute, was commissioned by a number of groups including The Link, Avera Behavioral Health and the Helpline Center.
More than a dozen focus groups were conducted along with interviews with providers and community members in both English and Spanish.
Some of the report's main takeaways were that while the city had "an abundance of community resources," more needed to be done to avoid duplicating services.
The Sioux Falls City Council took a vote on a related issue last month, approving a $125,000 grant program that would incentivize local agencies to use the "Network of Care" software program, which can be used to ensure someone receiving help from multiple places in the city isn't running into overlaps.
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Other challenges identified included how people in need of mental health services were often also struggling to meet needs such as food, shelter and transportation, along with the ability to pay for those services in the first place.
In addition to concerns about the low number of service providers in the city, the report found people often weren't aware of the ones that do exist, noting community members did not cite the 211 Helpline Center as a resource.
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"It was very surprising that community members did not mention 211," said José Ángel Cruz Medina, one of the report's authors. "In contrast to the providers and stakeholders, who appreciate and hold 211 in high esteem, it was interesting to find out that community members could not (think of) other organizations besides the two big hospitals, no matter how much we probed in the community focus groups."
The report added the number of participants in the focus groups was small, and recommended "more extensive outreach" to the community to determine mental health needs, especially within minority groups. While some Spanish-speaking adults were involved, the research "is limited to a majority white, middle-aged, female population."
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Report finds Sioux Falls needs more mental health providers