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South Dakota Mental Health Services Guide

If you're looking for free or low-cost counseling, you might think your only options are counselors in private practice. However, publicly-funded mental health services are available in every state and may be an option for you. Each state's mental health system is different, but they are all designed to provide affordable care that often includes low-cost therapy or counseling services. 


While state-based programs are not for everyone, they're often a great place to start if you face geographic or financial barriers to therapy. Intake specialists at community mental health programs can help you learn whether you qualify for state-funded services. And if you don't qualify, they can often refer you to other low-cost programs that may meet your needs.


When Should You Go to a State Mental Health Program?


Few private mental health providers are able to immediately serve people in crisis, while most state mental health programs, including South Dakota's, have crisis response systems that help people get mental health care quickly in an emergency. This usually makes public mental health services the best option if you're having a mental health crisis and need help right away. The people who answer crisis lines can provide caring attention and support as they help you determine the best response to a crisis, whether it's inpatient treatment or an appointment with a counselor.


Publicly-funded outpatient mental health programs in South Dakota are called community mental health centers (CMHCs). In addition to affordable therapy, CMHCs provide specialized and intensive services that aren't available anywhere else or that are hard to find in private clinics, like case management, psychosocial rehabilitation, and assertive community treatment. Consider going to a CMHC if you need intensive treatment, live in an area with limited mental health resources, or can't access mental health care in the private sector due to your diagnosis or financial situation.

Who Is Eligible for Public Mental Health Services in South Dakota?


Like most states' mental health systems, South Dakota's mental health system prioritizes people who are uninsured or underinsured and who have limited incomes. However, the South Dakota mental health department does not list any eligibility requirements on their official website or state that they limit services to people in these groups. Nor do individual CMHC websites list any restrictive eligibility requirements.


In fact, most South Dakota CMHCs state that their services are designed to meet a wide range of needs. Northeastern Mental Health Center says people see their therapists for everything from "symptoms of a mental disorder" to "assistance with self-esteem, significant life changes, or personal growth." Several CMHCs including Three Rivers and Southern Plains Behavioral Health Services offer couples counseling alongside specialized clinical treatments for specific conditions.


According to their websites (see below for links), most South Dakota CMHCs accept both public and private insurance and offer reduced or sliding scale fees to those who qualify. Most CMHCs state that while no one is turned away for inability to pay, people who don't qualify for financial aid will need to pay the full fee for their services. In many cases, though, this fee is significantly less than what you'd pay for therapy from a private practitioner.


Since financial aid policies and accepted payment methods can differ from program to program, the best way to find out if you can get low-cost counseling at a publicly-funded provider in South Dakota is to call the program you're interested in and ask.

How Can You Find Out More About Local Programs in South Dakota?



State-Licensed South Dakota Community Mental Health Centers


  • Behavior Management Systems
    1. Serving Bennett, Butte, Custer, Fall River, Harding, Jackson, Lawrence, Meade, Oglala Lakota, and Pennington Counties
    2. Main Number: (605) 343-7262 or (866) 825-1465
    3. Crisis Line (Crisis Care Center): (605) 391-4863
    4. Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Campus (Rapid City): (605) 343-0650
      • Outpatient Services (Rapid City): (605) 343-7262
      • Crisis Care Center (Rapid City): (605) 391-4863 or (605) 381-2482
      • Hot Springs Office (Hot Springs): (605) 745-6222
      • Spearfish Office (Spearfish): (605) 642-2777



  • Capital Area Counseling Services, Inc
    1. Serving Buffalo, Haakon, Hughes, Hyde, Jones, Lyman, Potter, Stanley, and Sully Counties
    2. Main Number and Crisis Line: (605) 224-5811
    3. Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Office (Pierre): (605) 224-5811
      • CARE Center Services (Pierre): (605) 224-5811


  • Community Counseling Services
    1. Serving Beadle, Hand, Jerauld, Kingsbury, Lake, Miner, and Moody Counties
    2. Main Number: (605) 352-8596
    3. Outpatient Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Office (Huron): (605) 352-8596
      • Madison Outpatient Services (Madison): (605) 256-9656
      • Flandreau Outreach Clinic (Flandreau): (605) 997-3771
      • Howard Outreach Clinic (Howard): (605) 256-9656
      • Miller Outreach Clinic (Miller): (605) 853-2421
      • Wessington Springs Outreach Clinic (Wessington Springs): (605) 539-1778
      • Lake Preston Outreach Clinic (Lake Preston): (605) 847-4484


  • Dakota Counseling Institute
    1. Serving Aurora, Brule, Davison, Hanson, and Sanborn Counties
    2. Main Number: (605) 996-9686
    3. Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Office (Mitchell): (605) 996-9686
      • Pathways Office (Mitchell): (605) 996-3723


  • Human Service Agency
    1. Serving Codington, Deuel, Grant, Hamlin, and Roberts Counties
    2. Main Number and Crisis Line: (605) 886-0123
    3. Sisseton Crisis Line: (605) 698-7688
    4. Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Office (Watertown): (605) 886-0123
      • Sisseton Office (Sisseton): (605) 698-7688
      • Milbank Office (Milbank): (605) 886-0123


  • Lewis and Clark Behavioral Health Services
    1. Serving Bon Homme, Charles Mix, Douglas, Hutchinson, Union, and Yankton Counties
    2. Main Number: (605) 665-4606
    3. Crisis Line: (605) 665-4606 or (800) 765-3382
    4. Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Main Office (Yankton): (605) 665-4606
      • Lake Andes Outreach Center (Lake Andes): (605) 665-4606
      • Vermillion Outreach Center (Vermillion): (605) 665-4606


  • Northeastern Mental Health Center
    1. Serving Brown, Campbell, Day, Edmunds, Faulk, Marshall, McPherson, Potter, Spink, and Walworth Counties
    2. Main Number: (605) 225-1010
    3. Crisis Line: (605) 229-1000
    4. Office Locations: 
      • Main Office (Aberdeen): (605) 225-1010
      • Webster Office (Webster): (605) 345-3146
      • Redfield Office (Redfield): (605) 472-3282
      • Mobridge Office (Mobridge): (605) 225-1010a


  • Southeastern Behavioral Healthcare
    1. Serving Lincoln, McCook, Minnehaha, and Turner Counties
    2. Main Number: (605) 336-0510 or (866) 258-6954
    3. Mental Health Office Locations:
      • Counseling and Children's Services (Sioux Falls): (605) 336-0510
      • Community Support Services (Sioux Falls): (605) 336-0503
      • On Track Program (Sioux Falls): (605) 336-0503




Native American Mental Health Resources




Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) are another option for public mental health care in South Dakota. These federally-funded programs provide medical and mental health services to people in underserved communities. Their goal is to deliver high-quality coordinated care to people with complex needs and to link behavioral healthcare with primary medical care. Each FQHC accepts Medicaid and Medicare and offers sliding-scale fees to people without insurance. You can search for FQHCs using the online search tool on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. 

How Does South Dakota's Public Mental Health System Work?

In the 1960s, Americans started thinking differently about how to treat mental health conditions. New laws required state and local governments to establish community mental health programs as alternatives to institutionalization for people with serious mental illness. Many states' public mental health programs trace their origins back to this period.


South Dakota was ahead of the curve. The Mental Health Association and other groups started establishing community mental health clinics in the state in the 1950s. Northeastern Mental Health Center has been around since 1958, Southeastern Behavioral Healthcare has been serving clients since 1952, and Behavior Management Systems has run a mental health clinic since 1948! Several other South Dakota mental health clinics were founded in the early 1960s. Many of these centers were converted into CMHCs using funds created by the 1963 Community Mental Health Centers Act. 


However, despite the pioneering spirit that gave it an early boost, South Dakota's mental health system has since fallen behind. Now, like many states, South Dakota provides a significant portion of its mental health "treatment" in prisons and jails. People who are committed to the state psychiatric hospital often have to be transported hundreds of miles by law enforcement. The suicide rate is double the national average. Part of the problem is that South Dakota spends less on community-based mental health programs than many other states. Another issue is disparities in care for Native Americans.


Fortunately, South Dakota is working to address these issues and improve its system. The state recently passed several bills to expand mental health access. Planned reforms will keep people who are in a mental health crisis out of jail and will increase access to the 211 hotline. The state is also investing in telehealth to address rural access issues and is establishing a virtual crisis care program. Native American colleges and clinics are expanding access to culturally competent integrated care.


According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), only 48 percent of people in South Dakota who have mental health conditions get treatment for them. One reason for the care gap is that people aren't aware of their options for affordable mental health care, including the public mental health system. You can help change these statistics by reaching out and using your local mental health resources to get the care you need.

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