Government Affairs

Mental health a key topic of discussion for policymakers in North Dakota

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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Anyone could find themselves facing a mental health crisis. Mental health issues are common and can be triggered by losses people experienced during the pandemic, spurred on by a decline in physical well-being, or amplified by substance abuse. The CDC reports the number of people seeking services for mental health issues rose over the past two years.

That’s why Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) met with the North Dakota Mental Health Counseling Association Thursday in a quest to learn how to better provide services to those in our state.

Armstrong says his grandmother was the head of the North Dakota Mental Health Association for 20 years and used to answer a suicide hotline in order to help others.

“It’s something that I think, to be honest, I think North Dakota has led the way on and I think society in general has moved faster than I would have thought possible in recognizing mental health and addiction as things that can be treated and not just punished,” said Congressman Kelly Armstrong (R-ND).

While things have changed since his grandmother’s days in terms of de-stigmatization and care, he says there’s more work to be done.

The group discussed North Dakota’s lack of access to timely care. Potential solutions included more telehealth opportunities, educational opportunities to build up professional staff, and building up services in tribal and rural communities.

“It’s not just the cost for the person dealing with it. It’s the spouse, the mother, or the brother, or the sister, and the lost days in the economy and all those different issues. One, if you can identify it earlier you can treat it. And two, you can bring people back into being part of society,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong says more people on both sides of the aisle care about the issue.

The House passed a bipartisan mental health bill this year (the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act) by a vote of 402 to 20.

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Service Project

Society of St Vincent de Paul- North Dakota

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul gives emergency assistance to parishioners and others living in the area with food, clothing and medicine, as well as assistance with utilities and rent. Private meetings to preserve the privacy of those they help are set up to discuss individual needs and available resources. Call 701-222-8011 to set up a meeting in the Bismarck/Mandan area.