Dan Bechtold/Winner Advocate Photo
Lindsey McCarthy is the new executive director of Southern Plains Behavioral Health Services.
By Dan Bechtold
Lindsey McCarthy worked for Southern Plains Behavioral Health Services for six years prior to taking over as executive director.
Now, almost a year into her new role, her passion and dedication to the organization has not waivered.
McCarthy served as a counselor from 2013 until she took over the role of executive director in December 2018.
Southern Plains serves the four counties of Tripp, Todd, Mellette and Gregory.
Southern Plains provides counseling services as well as psychiatric services, medication management, case management. They work with individuals and families of all ages.
McCarthy says the staff is working on different programs. Through a FEMA grant help is provided to persons in Todd and Mellette Counties. With this grant, Southern Plains is able to do crisis counseling outreach. “If they need resources we would be able to do referrals. We can also do group counseling,” she explained.
The grant has been extended and will end in May 2020.
Another new service Southern Plains is working on is Systems of Care and is offered in the four counties. With Systems of Care Southern Plains is working with the whole family to meet their needs.
The staff at Southern Plains is also growing. Three new persons were recently hired including Shawn Klinger, Amber McPhee and Jordain Volkert. McPhee works with the nursing staff and Klinger and Volkert are providing counseling services.
McCarthy grew up farm near Lucas and graduated from Burke High School in 2009. She went on to the University of South Dakota graduating in 2013 with a degree in social work.
While getting her undergraduate degree at USD, McCarthy did an internship at Southern Plains. “I was able to get a good background of the services this agency provided,” she said.
Once she graduated, Southern Plains created a position for McCarthy and hired her.
In 2018, she received her master’s degree in social work from the University of North Dakota.
She took the role of executive director to provide better services to the communities they serve. “I have always felt mental health is important.”
She explained her junior year of high school there were three tragedies that affected her.
“That really lead me to see that I needed to work in a helping profession. I knew that social work was right for me. But after the Southern Plains internship that really helped me identify the area I wanted to concentrate on. I wanted to do mental health,”.
McCarthy is passionate about helping people in the community.
“I think we can reach more people and have an impact. My passion is that I want to help everyone versus a small niche group. That is what I like about Southern Plains is the wide range of people we serve.”
Among McCarthy’s long term goals are to reduce the wait time.
“My ultimate goal is to reduce the wait list to get people into services faster. I want to make sure we are doing evidence based services,” she said.
As a counselor she was working one on one with a patient but in her new role as executive director is less individualized and working with the bigger system—how can Southern Plains implement programs that help individuals, family, community and the schools.
McCarthy explained Southern Plains is working with schools, it has just started in Winner, on implementing the juvenile justice report passed by the South Dakota Legislature.
Southern Plains is getting people trained to go into the schools and implement the new juvenile reform.
McCarthy explained the staff will be working in an adolescence setting and will focus on Moral Reconation Therapy and aggression replacement therapy (ART).
McCarthy says ART will start in January.
Southern Plains is also able to help rural ag community affected by flooding. The state is providing more funding for emergency services to the ag community.
“We are able to provide short term counseling services at no cost to the farmer,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy and her husband Joe live in Herrick. They couple had their first child, Cruz, in August.
Joe works as a mechanic at Argo in Burke.
Under her direction, McCarthy wants to see Southern Plains grow and provide the services sought by its clients.