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The NDSU Extension Service recognizes the crucial need for mental and behavioral health awareness, education, and referrals. Although we do not employ mental health professionals, we provide educational resources on topics in mental and behavioral health and partner with existing groups and organizations to further training and support in this area. This site provides information on selected resources and programs to increase awareness and assist individuals in seeking out support for needs related to mental, emotional, and behavioral health.

Mental / Behavioral Health

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ND Teen Suicide Rate 3 Times Higher Than National Average

North Dakota teens are three times more likely to commit suicide than their peers nationwide, according to the most recent data available.

Read the news story to discover how one prevention program in North Dakota, titled “Sources of Strength,” was developed with members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The data for the story are from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) Mortality File and U.S. Census Bureau Population Estimates. The numbers were obtained from the Federally Available Data (FAD) Resource Document.



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FirstLink: A Free and Confidential Helpline Answered 24 Hours a Day!

Are you are working with individuals or groups around issues of stress, or do you know someone who is feeling stressed?

If so, please share the statewide helpline information with them by going to the FirstLink website, Tap the word “resources” at the top of the page and then scroll down to find “printable resources.” Those resources are FirstLink calling cards, bookmarks and brochures. Print as many as you need for your work and community.

FirstLink offers callers listening and emotional support, needs assessment, information, referral, suicide support services and volunteer opportunities. Help is available 24 hours a day:

  • Helpline: Dial 2-1-1 or 701-235-7335
  • 24 Hour Suicide Lifeline: Dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

Check the NDSU Extension Service’s Children, Families and Finances website at regularly. We add helpful resources as we discover them.


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Mental Health First Aid Newsletter

May is Mental Health Month. This year, Mental Health First Aid USA is taking the opportunity to spread information on social media about how mental illness and addiction affect some key populations — and what we ALL can do to help. Because anyone, anywhere can be the difference for someone facing a mental health or substance use challenge.

Mental Health First Aid Newsletter 

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Webinar Announcement

Americans are killing themselves at an alarming rate. Since 1999, nearly 2 million people living in the U.S. died from causes related to drugs, alcohol, and suicide.

Deaths of Despair in Pennsylvania and Beyond: A Demographer’s Take on Drug, Alcohol and Suicide Mortality in Small City and Rural America 

Shannon M. Monnat, Pennsylvania State University 

April 11, 2017 – 12:00 PM Eastern Time

Nationwide, the mortality rate from drug poisoning, alcohol poisoning, and suicide has increased by 55 percent since 1999. Most of this increase was driven by a surge in prescription opioid and heroin overdoses, but overdoses from other drugs, suicides by means other than drugs (especially guns), and alcohol-induced deaths also increased over this period. Particularly striking is that mortality from drugs, alcohol, and suicide has increased during a period of declining mortality for other major causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, most cancers, and motor vehicle accidents. The highest rates are among young and middle-aged non-Hispanic white males, especially those living in nonmetropolitan areas, but rates are rising fastest among white females. This webinar will describe trends in drug, alcohol, and suicide mortality in the U.S., explore some of the potential explanations for why rates have increased over the past 2 decades and why these deaths are more prevalent in certain geographic areas, and discuss what it will take to counter these trends. The webinar will also explore the role that community-level illness and despair played in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

Presented by: Shannon Monnat is an Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, Demography, and Sociology and a Research Associate in the Population Research Institute at Penn State. She is also a Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire. Her research explores how economic, social, institutional, and policy factors are related to health and health disparities in the U.S.

Registration: There is no registration and no fee for attending this webinar.

To join the webinar go to, “enter as a guest” is by default already chosen. Type your name into the text box provided, and click on “Enter Room”. You are now in the meeting room for the webinar. 

To facilitate Q&A’s, participants submit questions/comments via the Chat Function in Adobe Connect.

The webinar will be recorded and archived at


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A Resource for Students!

Imagine Thriving is a wonderful resource for students and parents who care about someone with mental health concerns.

To get a sense of their work, please take four minutes to watch this powerful video by the Imagine Thriving Student Board with students and parents you know. It is just one of the ways that, with your help, they are reaching out to kids; empowering them with knowledge 

The Imagine Thriving website can be found at

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Mental Health Resources Available

Check out the resources on the new mental/behavioral health webpage. NDSU Extension developed it in response to North Dakota’s crucial need for awareness and education in mental and behavioral health, and referrals to services for people needing help.

Illustration by Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Extension specialists are finding helpful new resources for this site every week. The specialists check out the resources and list those that seem most useful for people who need help and those who are trying to help. Here are a few recent finds:

Mental Health First Aid ( - provides a consistent, comprehensive training. Participants learn about the various types of mental illness and how to assist people who need help.

The Elephant in the Room ( - a YouTube clip that plays off the notion that we tend to ignore the obvious but there is hope and healing when people are willing to talk about the elephant

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ( - includes information on suicide prevention, veterans, coping with trauma, eating disorders and resources in Spanish

Mental Health: Yours, Mine and Ours ( - a University of Minnesota Extension YouTube video that describes mental health and how it ebbs and flows in our lives. The video also discusses mental illness and how a diagnosis and help can make a difference in a person’s life and health.

Other learning opportunities on the mental/behavioral health webpage include an eXtension webinar ( for professionals developed by Amanda Raines and Jami Dellifield, Ohio State University, Hardin County.

Check the webpage often for new resources, and send us information on those that have helped you. When we share information on mental health, we all benefit from knowing how to help and whom to turn to for more information.

Illustration by Natalie Jeanne Champagne

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Supporting Emotional and Behavioral Health

When stressful times occur, it is important to consider the emotional and behavioral health needs of the individuals around us.

Many people have experienced stressful situations and been uncertain where to go for help or how to respond effectively to mental health challenges. The NDSU Extension Service is working to bring more educational resources to local citizens and communities for the purpose of supporting emotional and behavioral health needs.

Shaundra Ziemann-Bolinske, NDSU Extension agent and Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, addressed the topic of behavioral health and responding to individuals in distress in a keynote speech at the Bismarck Veteran’s Services Memorial Day event. For further information on supporting emotional and behavioral health, particularly in support of veterans and their families, please access this educational video by visiting:

Source: Shaundra Ziemann-Bolinske, Extension Agent, Burleigh County Extension, (701) 221-6865,

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Farming and Ranching in Tough Times

Farmers/ranchers and their family members experience pressure from all directions. While all of us must contend with economic ups and downs or family concerns, farmers have added uncertainties such as the weather and commodity prices that directly influence their lives and farming operations.

Farm/ranch stress stirs up many images: racing to town to buy spare parts (and finding they have to be ordered), listening to the radio and hearing the market drop daily (and your bins still are filled with last year’s crop), rushing to get the hay baled before a storm, or listening to a spouse’s frustration with long hours and limited family time. You may find yourself getting more and more frustrated, irritated, or just worn out and discouraged. Yet you are unlikely to reveal the stresses you face or the frustrations you feel as you meet again with the loan officer.

Farm/ranch families often experience pressure, conflict and uncertainty, especially during harvesting and planting. If feelings of frustration and helplessness build up, they can lead to intense family problems involving spouses or partners, children, parents and other relatives. If left unresolved, these feelings can lead to costly accidents, poor decisions, strained relationships, health concerns and deaths. However, you have things you can do to feel better and find help if you need it.

For further information on farming and ranching in tough times, access the remainder of this new educational resource from NDSU Extension by Dr. Sean Brotherson, Extension family science specialist at NDSU, by visiting:


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