mental health

July 25, 2022 | 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. CT

Register Today

The United States is experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis for people of all ages. Even before the onset of COVID-19, depression and anxiety rates were rising. Resulting disruptions in routines and relationships over the last 2+ years have pushed these levels higher.

During this session, we will examine recent data to see the effects on our two states and uncover some of the challenges we face. A panel of experts will share their insight and expertise on how we can make positive traction in expanding access to behavioral health for individuals most in need. Vawnita Best (Walford City, North Dakota) will also share her experience accessing behavioral health services.


  • Increase awareness of the current state of access to behavioral health services in North and South Dakota
  • Understand barriers patients experience in accessing behavioral health services
  • Discuss options to improve access to behavioral health services
  • Identify opportunities for healthcare systems to build and enhance consistent partnerships with community organizations that benefit patients with behavioral health issues

“When people first begin experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, they often look for answers, resources and supports online, long before speaking to a provider. The average time between onset of mental health symptoms and diagnosis and treatment of a mental health condition is 11 years.¹”

Panel Members:

Vawnita Best 

Walford City

Heather Brandt (002)

Heather Brandt

Manager, Behavioral Health Community Supports; North Dakota Department of Health


Andrea Heronimus

Andrea Heronimus

Mental Health Services Program Manager; South Dakota Department of Social Services

Jason Illich

Jason Lillich​

Executive Director​; Three Rivers Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Center​

Andrew McLean Headshot (002)

Andrew J. McLean, MD, MPH

Clinical Professor and Chair Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences