Avera Medical Minute: Behavioral Assessment Hotline - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Avera Medical Minute: Behavioral Assessment Hotline

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Avera Behavioral Health Assessment Program Supervisor Heidi Wagner answering a call for help. Avera Behavioral Health Assessment Program Supervisor Heidi Wagner answering a call for help.

Sometimes the hardest part about getting help is admitting you need it. Getting help for mental health or substance abuse issues couldn't be easier through the Avera Behavioral Health Assessment Program. We met some of the counselors waiting for your call.

Heidi Wagner is the Assessment Program Supervisor at Avera Behavioral Health in Sioux Falls. She and her colleagues seated on both sides of her are on the front lines in the battle of Mental Illness. These highly trained professional and caring counselors are the first point of contact for people calling-in for help or advice.

Assistant Vice President of Avera Behavioral Health Services Steve Lindquist says, "The people calling would be people who just aren't right in their lives related to mental health issues or substance abuse issues. Something is just not right, things aren't working right, they're feeling like they aren't the same person I was and my life isn't what I wanted it to be and now I need help. The number of calls coming in to the assessment program has nearly doubled in the last 5 years. Avera Behavioral Health counselors took 7,000 calls in 2008 and had 6,000 face-to-face assessment meetings."

Heidi Wagner says, "Typically a loved one or co-worker calls to say 'I've got this person I'm really concerned about. Can we get them in?' For people who are struggling themselves it can be really hard to make that call."

After the initial call is made (if they decide to move forward with treatment), the person will come in to the Avera Behavioral Health center and meet with the same counselors who took their call. They will meet confidentially, in private and in a one-on-one meeting unless they want their loved one to join them. From there, the counselor helps asses the level of care they need and who they will be seeing. 

Heidi says, "We try to bond with them and let them know its okay that you called. We're glad they did and help in available. You don't have to feel like this. In South Dakota and especially the Midwest everyone is told to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and go on. A lot of people suffer from some sort of mental illness and they never get help. Now they can come in and talk to someone who can explain, with these symptoms, you can get help, get treated and you can feel better.

If you had a broken leg you'd get it fixed. Why not improve you mental health? Help really is only a phone call away.
Call 1-800-691-4336.


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