RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -With only one major mental health facility in the state, people in crisis previously had to travel to Yankton for treatment. Now, west river leaders are making a call to action. They want Rapid City’s Care Center to expand.

Willie Whelchel, Chief Deputy of Pennington County Sheriff’s Office says providing mental health services closer to home has an impact on success rates.

He states “To be able to expand our beds and this facility is going to be anywhere from a one-day hold to a five-day hold. They can deal with most crisis-type situations that are going on, so this is huge for this community.”

South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson took a tour of the Care Center and had strong words regarding how Behavioral health is treated in the U.S… especially in South Dakota.

“If you had to pick one area where our country has most terribly underinvested, it would be both substance abuse and mental health.”

To assist in the expansion, Governor Kristi Noem is working with the Department of Social Services using fifteen million dollars in ARPA funds. Those funds will help not only build the facility but help with treatment programs as well.

Johnson says federal covid funds last year could have helped.

“A year ago, we had a trillion dollars of unspent covid funds, I had a bill with Kim Schrier of Washington that would have allowed states to scoop up those unused dollars and instead put them into a behavioral health trust fund. To have a preputial asset that forever we could spend those dollars on behavioral health. Now I could not get speaker Pelosi to agree with me but doing that would have been so much better than what we have been doing, which is a lot of states have been investing in things that are not going to pay out like that would have.

Over the next four years, an estimated 3.75 million dollars in ARPA funds will be spent to help expand mental health facilities across the state.

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