Avera Receives BIG Funding to… | South Dakota Community Foundation

Avera Receives BIG Funding to Increase Access to Mental Health Services

February 3, 2023 // Grants, Beyond Idea Grant Program

Avera has received a $100,000 grant through the South Dakota Community Foundation’s Beyond Idea Grant (BIG) Program to further integrate behavioral health services into primary care visits in Brookings County.

A concept known as Integrated Behavioral Health is the gold standard for behavioral health care in any setting, per the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Integrated Behavioral Health adds providers within primary care to increase access and care coordination while improving prevention and reducing barriers,” said Nikki Eining, Outpatient Clinical Therapist for Avera Medical Group Behavioral Health in Brookings and Project Director for this pilot project.

While 75% of primary care visits nationwide include a mental health component, most of South Dakota lacks access to behavioral health services in any setting.

Brookings County is a federally designated Mental Health – Health Shortage Professional Area. Suicidality increased in 2022 to exceed the 10-year average of suicide attempts.

By innovating via integrated behavioral health, this pilot will reduce the disparity while increasing ease and access to care. Training for clinicians will increase their knowledge about identifying and referring behavioral health concerns. Equity training will help support cultural sensitivity and referrals for Hispanic and Native American patients. Another aspect of this grant is collaboration with South Dakota State University to identify behavioral health access gaps for Native American students.

The South Dakota Community Foundation’s Beyond Idea Grant (BIG) Program has been designed to support community-based problem solving in South Dakota. In partnership with the Bush Foundation, the program will award $1.2 million each year for six years to eligible nonprofits in South Dakota. The program aims to develop, test and spread ideas that make the region better for everyone and inspire, equip and connect leaders to more effectively lead equitable change.

“Mental health has long been identified as an urgent need across South Dakota. Suicidality, drug abuse and family crises are just a few of the societal problems that result. We want to prevent these tragedies and help individuals and families experience higher quality of life,” said Ginger Niemann, Senior Program Officer with the South Dakota Community Foundation. “Solving this issue will take innovation and collaboration. We selected this project for BIG funding because it not only will benefit Brookings County, but could serve as a model for making behavioral health services more accessible and timely for patients in need.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the grant funding to launch this project and we are excited to see the difference it makes as this concept gains momentum,” Eining said.

To learn more about funding opportunities offered by the SDCF, please visit our website at https://www.sdcommunityfoundation.org/

SDCF is a public non-profit organization established in 1987. SDCF, with offices in Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Aberdeen administers 1,200 funds benefiting hundreds of charitable organizations annually. The Foundation distributed nearly $30 million in grants in 2022 which made a tremendous difference in communities statewide. This would not have been possible without the generosity of our donors. If you have a specific cause you would like to support or would prefer to give for the general good of our state, please visit https://sdcommunityfoundation.org/giving to learn more or call 1-800-888-1842.

The Bush Foundation invests in great ideas and the people who power them. Established in 1953 by 3M Executive Archibald Bush and his wife Edyth, the Foundation encourages individuals and organizations to think bigger and think differently about what is possible in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area