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Behavioral Health in the Dakotas: Panel Discussion

July 25 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm CDT

mental health

Access the Recording.

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. Today, we will examine recent data to see the effects on our two states and uncover some of the challenges we face. We will also hear Vawnita Best’s story about accessing behavioral health services and discuss with a panel of experts how we can make positive traction in expanding access to behavioral health for individuals most in need.

“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. Source: mhanational.org


  • 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

Panel Members:

Andrew McLean Headshot (002) Heather Brandt (002) Vawnita Best
Andrea Heronimus

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

Andrew J. McLean, MD, MPH

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

Heather Brandt

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

Vawnita Best

Patient Testimony





July 25
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm CDT
Event Category: