Mental Health

Montana’s June 2 primary election is less than a month off, and candidates are busy carving out positions, and campaigning as best they can during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of them participated in last Thursday's online forum discussing what health care providers say is the state’s rapidly deteriorating behavioral health system.

A snowboarder at Big Sky Ski Resort.
Dennis Matheson/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Like many ski resort communities across the American West, Big Sky has seen a rise in suicides and overdoses in the last five years. A new report looks at some of the underlying factors and makes recommendations to connect a fragmented system of care.

The state health department is expanding hours and staffing of phone lines for mental health therapy and suicide prevention. This comes amid a surge of requests from Montanans seeking emotional support during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

A man in a mask holds a gun during a simulation crisis intervention in Bozeman, February 14, 2020.
Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

Law enforcement officials in Montana’s fastest growing county say the number of mental health and substance misuse related calls to 911 is going up. Since 2009, a training program has been trying to help first responders work with mental health professionals to better assist people facing a crisis.

The Bullock administration Monday announced its plan to double the number of Montanans receiving community-based mental health care treatment over the next five years .

Some mental health care providers in the state are still stinging from nearly 3 year old state budget cuts.

Grain Elevators located in Hardin, Montana.
Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

Farming and ranching have always been considered risky. But more extreme weather events, low prices and uncertainty have led to higher rates of bankruptcy and suicide across the U.S. Recently 700 women ag producers gathered in locations across six western states to learn about ways to reduce stress on farms and ranches. 

A silhouette of a cowboy with clouds and a blue sky in the background.
Adam Cohn / Flickr-CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0

Limited access to therapists, cost and stigma around mental health can make it difficult for rural Montanans to get the care they need. Now, Bozeman researchers are testing and adapting a new online program that’s been shown to side-step those barriers and reduce depression and anxiety for adults.

Anna Paige

Jason DeShaw is a mental health activist and musician from Montana who has six albums to his name and tours extensively. Behind the scenes, Jason nearly lost his life to mental illness. He shares his story in schools, communities, and psychiatric hospitals across the country and received the Champions Award in Washington D.C. from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for “exhibiting courage, leadership and service on behalf of all people living with mental illness.”


The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows nearly a quarter of high schoolers in Montana seriously considered suicide in the previous 12 months.
2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey / Montana Office of Public Instruction


Ten percent of Montana high school students say they’ve attempted suicide in the past year, according to a statewide survey released last month. The percentage of Montana highschoolers who report being depressed is at a 20 year high.

The inaugural Jeremy Bullock Safe Schools Summit held in Butte this week brought around 150 teachers, school administrators, law enforcement and mental health workers together to talk through the growing concern about violence in schools. The summit is named after Jeremy Bullock, an 11-year-old boy shot and killed on a school playground in Butte 25 years ago.

Montana Public Radio's Corin Cates-Carney spoke with Jeremy's parents Robin and Bill Bullock during the convention this week.

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