County-wide 211 draws interest


The availability of a help-line to handle mental health concerns in Moody County is closer to reality with representatives of the county, city of Flandreau and community businesses offering to help pay for the service.
The Helpline Center in Sioux Falls provides 211 services for about 20 counties, mainly larger populated counties in the state. Counties surrounding Moody County all have the service available to residents.
When a caller dials 211 they connect with someone who can help with mental health issues, including suicide. The Helpline also is the National Suicide Prevention Line for South Dakota at 1-800-273-8255.
Moody County Cares, a group of church, civic, government and community leaders who have gotten together to address mental health issues, wants to see Moody County have 211 services. After a presentation at the county commission meeting Jan. 3, the county, city and businesses said they would help pay for $5,000 annual fee and $1,000 initial fee to make the resource available.
The 211 number is easy to remember, said the Rev. Alan Blankenfeld with Moody County Cares. “Moody County Cares is primarily looking at suicide prevention and mental health aspects,” he said.
Scott Hargens with Avera Flandreau said the hospital system would be willing to help financially, and a representative of The First National Bank in Sioux Falls Flandreau Branch said the bank could also help.
Blankenfeld, Sheriff Troy Wellman will meet with city and county officials this month to ask for financial support of 211. They also will meet with tribal leaders to see if they would like to work together on the project. United Way, which helps support the project in others counties, also will be asked to help.
Mayor Mark Bonrud, who also is the county coroner and works for Moody County Ambulance, said responders have been dealing more and more with mental health issues, suicide prevention and attempts.
“I think it’s a good resource to have,” he said.
Providing 211 statewide is part of a bill introduced in this year’s legislative session in Pierre, too. While the idea has been considered by the Legislature in the past few years, mental health is expected to be one of the bigger discussions before lawmakers this year.
Blankenfeld said he visited the 211 office in Sioux Falls and was told that calls from Moody County now are probably one of the largest call volumes the service has. If the county were to join 211, more specific resources could be available through 211 to help people.
While Moody County Cares initially started looking at mental health needs because of the current farm crisis, it also has found a need for suicide prevention in young people and others.
The group will host a community information event with speakers from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27 at the Flandreau elementary commons. Moody County Cares also is starting a Facebook page.

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