Counseling services nearly booked full with holidays here

The holiday season is usually a time that therapists, counselors and mental health providers expect to see a rise in people seeking help.
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 5:49 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The holiday season is usually a time that therapists, counselors and mental health providers expect to see a rise in people seeking help. But Holly Merrick Liston with Yellow Brick Road Counseling and Therapy in Sioux Falls said that often times, other holiday distractions keep people from reaching out.

“What happens are people get busy with the holiday shopping, parties, activities, and don’t always take time for themselves. That’s kind of what I’ve noticed in the several years that I’ve been in practice,” Merrick Liston said. “It seems like other things prioritize over your mental health. So that’s just one thing to be aware of.”

Merrick Liston said even though the rise in awareness in people seeking out mental health services started well before the pandemic, it only grew the longer it’s effects went on. Now she and many counselors and therapists are starting to see that demand wane.

“For me, that was a little bit overwhelming, with all of the referrals and just trying to keep up with everybody. I know there’s waiting lists and things like that. But I think now it’s kind of evened out.” Merrick Liston said.

It’s a continued issue for health organizations and governments across South Dakota. In her 2022 budget address Tuesday, Governor Kristi Noem called for more resources to be allocated to current and new mental health centers and services.

“Too often, when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, they just end up in jail or in the emergency room. That isn’t how we get them the help that they need. And that isn’t a responsible use of taxpayer dollars. These facilities will help these individuals get better care as soon as possible. And it will be closer to home.

We’ve built these facilities in communities across the state. Two years ago, you provided funding for facilities in Pennington County and Watertown. Last year, you provided an additional $15 million to expand these regional facilities statewide.

You built the buildings – now we need to fund the operations. My budget proposes $5.6 million in ongoing funding to these regional facilities to get these individuals the help that they need sooner. It will not only be better care, it will also be more efficient and cost-effective than what we are doing today.”

Gov. Kristi Noem in her 2022 budget address

Merrick Liston said many people are still not sure of how to approach their own mental health concerns, and don’t know where to start. She said thanks to the efforts from health organizations and other government resources, there’s a wide range of resources available for those seeking help. She said if people do need help, that they should be extensive in their search and look for every option out there, not just a traditional counseling session.

“In what is a process to reach out, sometimes people don’t understand how to find a therapist. So it is kind of one of those things to just go online, search for counseling and therapy.” Merrick Liston said.