Simplified: Dakotah Jordan is the education and postvention manager for Lost & Found, a nonprofit that works to eliminate suicide. She chatted with Cmtv News about the importance of mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Answers are edited for length and clarity. Responses are quotes from Jordan.

Let's start with your background, how did you "get smart" about mental health? What in your background prepared you for your role today with Lost & Found?

I have a bachelors degree in social work, and in college I went through a very strenuous academic program and needed to take care of my own mental health.

  • I found yoga in college – for me it was always a mental health tool. I became a yoga teacher and started a business to help people use yoga and breathwork as tools for mental wellbeing.

Since coming to Lost & Found, I have immersed myself in learning more about the suicide prevention side of mental health. I’ve become a trainer in multiple prevention trainings, read books, learned from those with lived experience, attended conferences and more.

We're all about simplicity here. Can you describe the importance of mental health in 10 words or fewer?

Mental health impacts every area of your wellbeing, prioritize it.

What's something you find most folks misunderstand or get wrong about mental health? If you could set the record straight, what would you say?

I would like to think this is changing, but when we hear the words mental health, it has a negative connotation. People assume you're talking about mental illness.

  • We don't talk about it as a neutral term, and it is – just like physical health is a neutral term.

If you could snap your fingers right now and magically add a mental health resource to Sioux Falls, what would it be?

South Dakota has a shortage of mental health providers in every single county, including Sioux Falls.

  • I think if I could magically snap my fingers, it would just be to create more providers – and specifically those who specialize in working with traditionally underserved populations like LGBTQ+, Native Americans, immigrant and refugee people.

I'd also like to see better coordinated care between all the agencies doing this work. We go farther together.

What are your personal go-tos when you feel you need to tend to your mental health?

I have a golden-doodle named Montana, so taking him out on walks and being outside is probably my main thing to do. He also encourages me to get off my phone and engage in life.

  • Journaling is big for me, as well, to just get all the thoughts out of my head.

I've realized that (taking care of your mental health) is a lot simpler than people make it out to be. One of the easiest things to do is just stop what you're doing and just go take a walk.

For folks who maybe haven't historically been in tune with their own mental health needs, where's a good place to start?

Slow down.

  • I know, the answer no one wants to hear. You have to slow down long enough to notice what is going on in your body and mind. Our society keeps us running, chasing and busy which often leaves our thoughts and feelings in the dust.

Let it catch up with you, and if doing so is incredibly overwhelming, please ask for help. 988 is a great immediate resource but seeking out a relationship with a therapist can help you work through the things you might have been purposely or subconsciously ignoring.

What are some good resources for people who feel they need help managing their mental health?

988 is the number one resource because on the other end of 988, you're talking to a mental health-trained counselor.

You don't need to be in an active crisis to call – they can help you find a counselor, put together an action plan and more.

Lost & Found also has lots of resources and guides. (Find those here.)

Anything else you'd like the good people of sioux falls to know about you, Lost & Found or mental health awareness month?

Another thing that's probably underutilized in terms of resources is that a lot of employers have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), and a lot of people have heard that but don't necessarily know what it means or how to utilize it.

  • Reach out to your human resources departments and figure out if that's a resource that's available for them.