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Dunn County launches mental health website

Dunn County has a new online platform titled “Credible Mind,” which is a mental health service targeted to help emergency responders who are dealing with behavioral health issues as well as other rural Dunn County residents.

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Even first responders, such as the firefighter pictured above, deal with behavioral and mental issues such as anxiety and PTSD from the job. Dunn County launched a new online resource to allow residents and first responders an opportunity to seek help when they need it the most and resources are limited. (Dickinson Press File Photo)

First responders suit up each day and do everything in their power to save lives. But sometimes, even the rescuers need to be rescued.

That’s why Dunn County launched a new online resource this month that guides residents who may be dealing with behavioral and mental health issues by providing a platform to seek a coping mechanism.

The new website, titled Credible Mind, is a free resource for Dunn County residents whether they are dealing with stress, anxiety, depression, trauma or other behavioral topics, Dunn County’s Human Resource Director Dessie Calihou said. CredibleMind, Inc. is a platform that any county can partner with and create a website that is particularly targeted toward that specific county and offer resources designated to that population, Calihou said.

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“The overarching goal is to provide a bridge between services, " Calihou said. "In western North Dakota, there’s not a lot of services for behavioral and mental health issues and the services that we do have, which are fabulous, are just overburdened because we do have a little bit of a population and we don’t have enough services to help out our population. So what this program can do is break that gap."

If an individual is a new patient, the average wait to see a counselor and receive help is approximately three months, Calihou said. By having the Credible Mind website, it allows for individuals to seek help anonymously right away, whether it’s watching a short video or reading information that will help a person cope with what they’re dealing with, she said.

“It’s not meant to be a replacement for professional help, it’s meant to be a bridge,” Calihou said.

This website can also be used for other workplaces. Calihou noted that emergency responders and the “rural audience” — farmers, ranchers, oilfield workers, etc. — were a driving force to initiative this program, yet it is meant for all ages.

“The volume of topics that are they and the variety of topics that are they could be relatable literally from a high school student to that 60-year-old farmer who might be struggling,” she said.

West Dunn Fire Chief Ryan Hauck has advocated for this new resource because first responders deal with so much on the job that many people don’t realize.

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A firefighter copes with work stress and anxiety. (Dickinson Press File Photo)

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“... There’s things that we see that we hope others don’t, so it’s hard to deal with it at times. Then we got to go home to our families and you don’t always want to tell them either,” Hauck said.

Hauck noted that southwestern North Dakota is limited in resources that deal with behavioral and mental health issues, not only for first responders but for all individuals.

“It’s hard to talk to somebody at times, and having something out there, 24/7, 365 days of the year is helpful and showing (that) there is hope, sort of speaking. I know the rescuer doesn’t always want to admit to needing to be rescued,” Hauck said. “... (With) the PTSD side of things — not just in first responders, law enforcement and the military — I’ve seen guys get hit with it and they need help and we’re not always there to help each other.

"With the new age of people and the technology, we’re not always face to face with everybody. We have gone away from face to face interaction, not just with the pandemic but even talking on our cellphones. We don’t use it to talk, we use it to text, and that is something where you can text somebody and say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ And not knowing their facial expression, they can say, ‘fine’ or ‘okay.’ But maybe they are hurting and maybe this is something that they would use to help themselves too.”

Dunn County Commissioner Daryl Dukart was the main mastermind behind the program starting in the county. Every person deals with stress at a certain point in their lives, especially with the coronavirus pandemic, Dukart said, adding that this website will help “release that stress pressure.”

“It’s important for the reasons of the challenges that our state is faced with mental and behavioral health along with our county and other local counties in our communities here on the Western Edge of North Dakota,” Dukart said. “Mental health impacts about 75% of the population in some shape or form. This is a resource where you can reach out and grab the information, do a self analysis… you feel that you’re at that point where you need therapy or you need professional help and it offers that resource within that program.”

To learn more about Dunn County’s new mental health resource platform, visit dunn.crediblemind.com .

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A firefighter copes with work stress and anxiety. (Dickinson Press File Photo)

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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