City leaders address impact of growing mental health concerns

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Community leaders gathered at Elevate Rapid City to address what they say is a growing mental health crisis, which impacts family life, workplaces, and crime.

Lt. Tim Doyle“Almost every issue that we deal with, there’s some kind of underlying mental health issue. And that causes people to go into crisis or to run away or to become suicidal or to commit crimes or to get involved in drugs,” says Lt. Tim Doyle with the Rapid City Police Department. 

They spoke of the toll that unmet mental health needs have taken on the community, and proposed paths towards solutions. Officials added that issues like drug use and violence can often be traced back to unresolved mental health struggles.

“These people are in crisis,” adds Lt. Doyle. “They’re not thinking, you know, a month, a year down the road, is this going to screw up my life? They’re day to day in crisis, and that’s covering up almost always some kind of underlying mental health issue.”

With a deepening lack of mental health providers and a growing need for mental health care, resources like Wambli Ska are being stretched thin, and leaders say that there’s no such thing as too many of the same kinds of resources.

“If as grown ups, we don’t have those answers to provide some sort of comforting words to our children, they’re going to revert to that peer pressure,” says Jonathan Old Horse, Pastor, Woyatan Lutheran Church. “They’re going to revert to clouding their minds, like probably a lot of people in our communities have done during this era. Because there’s just no way out.”

Officials say that the solution includes stepping up for compassionate intervention and the resources this requires.Mental Health

“We put so much pressure on teachers, on law enforcement, but not building that nucleus to build a family in a healthy manner instead of pointing fingers, but finding solutions to that problem,” Old Horse adds.

He adds that it’s time to step up as friends, leaders, and listeners.

“It’s going to take people like you and others in our community that have a little bit of time and a little bit of capacity to get involved, to continue to make this better,” says Chief Deputy Brian Mueller with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

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