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Published on September 20, 2022

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Mental Health Help for Students and Parents

When moms and dads around Sioux Falls asked for support with the mental health challenges their kids might face, Avera Behavioral Health experts and leaders from Sioux Falls School District listened.

The Family Forum Series is a new partnership that will provide information and resources on the third Tuesday of each month during the school year. Each session will include an expert from Avera. The programs are offered live online and are recorded for future reference.

“We wanted to make helpful, meaningful tools easily accessible for parents who are faced with a lot of tough issues,” said Thomas Otten, Assistant Vice President of Avera Behavioral Health Services.

Topics focus on issues parents want to know more about, said Patti Lake-Torbert, Senior Coordinator for Student Support/Indian Education Services of the Sioux Falls School District.

Schedule of Topics Parents Won’t Want to Miss

Sessions take place from 6-7 p.m.

  • Sept. 20: Suicide Prevention – Ask the Question/Talking to Your Child About Mental Health
  • Oct. 18: Anxiety – How Do I Help my Child Manage Their Anxiety?
  • Nov. 15: Digital Media – Effects on Mental Health
  • Dec. 20: Gaming Addiction – Going into the long Christmas break, alternatives for families to keep their child engaged in other activities
  • Jan. 17: Eating Disorders – Unhealthy Habits or Depression in My Child
  • Feb. 21: Vaping and Children’s Health
  • March 21: Grief and Loss
  • April 18: Helping Your Child Resolve Conflicts
  • May 16: Community Resources Available During Summer

Go to for call-in information and a link to the Zoom meeting.

Series Begins with Ask the Question

Suicide prevention is where the series begins. Avera began its Ask the Question campaign recently, and many studies across the nation show a rise in this tragic issue.

“When schools sought partners, we were glad to join this life-saving effort,” Otten added.

“Even young kids might have challenges, and it can be overwhelming for parents, so that’s why we want them to know we’re here,” Lake-Torbert said.

Sessions Can Help Overcome Stigma or Fears

When a student is confronting depression, anxiety or other behavioral health issues, especially those in grade school, they likely don’t have the words to explain what they experience.

“We can help teach parents how younger kids might ‘show’ they’re having trouble with a mental health condition,” Lake-Torbert said. “We also can help teach kids about how to face stress, deal with setbacks and avoid comparisons with others.”

“Moms and dads who model good behavior or who can explain how they cope with stress find it helps kids do the same,” Lake-Torbert said. “Kids are smart and resilient – we can help them understand good and bad times.”

When kids know they have caring adults to turn to, they can thrive, no matter what sort of obstacles might appear on their journey.

Get more resources about suicide prevention.

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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