Suicide Prevention Community Training

SDPHHS logo newuicide persists as a major public health problem in Montana. Montana has been at or near the top in the nation for the rate of suicide for nearly four decades. In the past ten years (2005-2014), the crude rate of suicide in Montana is 22.33 per 100,000 people (the national rate during that period is 12.22 per 100,000). Between 2005 and 2014, a total of 2,199 Montana residents have died by suicide for an average of 220 people per year.

On September 19, the Montana DPHHS will be holding a community training session for suicide prevention at the Kootenai Job Service in Libby. The presentation will focus on suicide within our culture with specific attention towards Montana.  The presentation covers national and Montana data, demographics of a suicidal person, warning signs, risk assessment, training on how to intervene with a suicidal person, evidenced-based practices, and resources available.

Learning objectives for this presentation will include: 1) Participants will be able to identify at least three warning signs of suicide, 2) Participants will know what QPR stands for, and 3) Participants will be able to identify at least two suicide prevention resources in the state.

Contact Heather Merritt at 406-293-6282 (ext.: 223) for more details!

Interested in hosting a similar event in your own area? Contact Karl Rosston at 406-444-3349.


Youth Mental Health First Aid-Big Sky, MT


In the most recent survey, approximately 37,000 adult Montanans (4.9% of all adults) per year had a serious mental illness. That percentage is similar to the national percentage. Montana’s percentage of mental health treatment of adults with any mental health illness was higher than the national percentage. Approximately 75,00 adult Montanans received mental health treatment or counseling.


Youth Mental Health First Aid USA is an eight-hour public education program which introduces participants to the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, builds understanding of the importance of early intervention, and teaches individuals how to help an adolescent in crisis or experiencing a mental health challenge. Mental Health First Aid uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to assess a mental health crisis; select interventions and provide initial help; and connect young people to professional, peer, social, and self-help care.

Youth Dynamics in Big Sky, Montana will be hosting a Youth Mental Health First Aid session on August 11, 2016. For more information, visit the webpage!

For resources on starting a Mental Health First Program in your community click here

NA @ 10K Meeting


The use of narcotics is a significant problem that many Montanans are faced with. Whether it is alcohol, meth, or anything in between, many Montanans struggle every day to cope with their addition and actively seek help doing so.

In the most recent survey, 10.77 percent of Montanans reported using illicit drugs in the past month. The national average was 8.2 percent. Additionally, 3.15 percent of Montana residents reported using an illicit drug other than marijuana in the past month (the national average was 3.6 percent). Montana drug-induced deaths (15.1 per 100,000) exceeded the national rate (12.8 per 100,000).

The Montana Region of Narcotics Anonymous is a nonprofit fellowship of men and women for whom drugs have become a problem. They receive people who are struggling with addiction and meet regularly to help each other stay clean. It is a program of complete abstinence of all drugs. There is only one requirement for membership: the desire to stop using.

Starting an NA meeting is a lot simpler than you may think. Click here for a guide on how to start your own NA meetings within your community.


The NA@ 10K is a very unique Narcotics Anonymous adventure happening during the Beartooth Rally in Red Lodge, MT. The Beartooth Pass is one of the premier destination rides in the USA. The meeting is on US Highway 212, (Beartooth Highway) 30 miles southwest of Red Lodge, Montana in Wyoming. Fellowship with them in Red Lodge and climb the hill, or meet them there. (Watch for their banners)

For more info, call John H 406-208-1829 or Carla W 307-202-0858.

For more information click here!

Fourth of July Races









Get out and get active this Fourth of July in Montana! With races all over the state, there is no reason not to participate and work off some of those calories the holiday usually brings! Besides 5Ks, there are a variety of shorter and longer races to partake in! See the list below.

5k2Let Freedom Run–Choteau

Chief Joseph Uphill Run–Laurel

Freedom Race–Billings

Grateful Nation Montana’s Freedom 5K–Bigfork

Liberty Dash–Livingston

Race for Independence–Bozeman





Run a 5k on Turkey Day!

Running or walking a 5k race on Thanksgiving Day has become increasingly popular in recent years for a number of great reasons:

  • These races are typically tied to a charitable cause
  • Often people will wear fun a festive costumes
  • Sometimes the organizers give out turkeys and pies to top finishers
  • And perhaps the most tantalizing draw to running a 5k on Thanksgiving morning is that trotters can feel guilt-free about gobbling down later on!

With approximately 870,000 people throughout the country participating in Thanksgiving races in 2013, compared to 698,000 in 2011, according to Running USA and The Wall Street Journal, it would seem that people all  around the country agree that a running just a few miles for a good cause is the best way to kick off the holiday.


Below are just a few of the races that will be taking place in Montana on November 26, 2015!

5K Turkey Trot – By Somers School District
5K run/walk
Somers, MT
Flathead County
Register Here

Burn the Bird 5K/10K
10K, 5K run
Great Falls, MT
Cascade County
Register Here

Glendive Turkey Trot
10K, 5K run
Glendive, MT
Dawson County
Register Here

Huffing For Stuffing Thanksgiving Day Run
10K run | 5K run/fun run/walk | kids run
Bozeman, MT
Gallatin County
Register Here

Polson Turkey Trot
3M fun run
Polson, MT
More Info Here

Run Wild Missoula’s Turkey Day 8K
8K run | 3K fun run
Missoula, MT
Missoula County
Register Here

Run! Turkey Run!
5K, 1M run | kids run
Billings, MT
Yellowstone County
Register Here

Whitefish Turkey Trot
5K run/walk
Whitefish, MT
Flathead County

Register Here

Logo 1

Montana Association for the Blind

Logo 1

Promoting the economic self-sufficiency of blind Montanans

The Montana Association for the Blind (MAB) is a statewide, nonprofit, self-help, consumer organization. The MAB was founded by blind and visually impaired Montanans and their friends in 1946.

The Association works to better the lives of blind and visually impaired Montanans with their summer training program, teaching needed skills to newly blind adults and by advocating on issues affecting the blind and visually impaired.

Mission and Vision
The mission of the Montana Association for the Blind is to promote the economic and social self-sufficiency of blind Montanans through the facilitation of quality education, learning, training, and employment services and opportunities, and to foster a positive understanding of blindness.

logo 2

Summer Orientation

The Summer Orientation Program (SOP) is designed for adults who have recently experienced vision loss. The four-week long program teaches visually impaired adults the skills necessary to live independently and to function in their home, community, and at work. The program is held each year, mid-June to mid-July on the Carroll College campus in Helena, MT.

When vision loss occurs it becomes necessary to learn other ways of doing everyday tasks.

Skills Taught:

  • Safe travel in home and community
  • Use of adaptive equipment for home and work
  • Alternative methods of writing including Braille and writing guides
  • Computer programs for the visually impaired
  • Methods of marking appliances and equipment
  • Use of assistive technology
  • Support networks are formed
  • Community resources are shared
  • Adaptive recreation

Apply Now! 

The MAB has 11 local chapters across the state

Great Falls

MAB supported by member contributions, fundraisers and contributions through Montana Shares.The Montana Association for the Blind is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. All contributions are tax-deductible.

To make a donation click here

To Learn more about the Montana Association for the Blind check our their website at

GFPS employee wellness

GFPS Employee Wellness Program

The mission of the GFPS Employee Wellness Program is to nurture the health and well-being of their most important asset—the employees  of Great Falls Public Schools.
GFPS employee wellness

Great Falls Public Schools Employee Wellness has grown leaps and bounds since January of 2007! Each year the GFPS Employee Wellness Committee provides health and wellness information to nearly 1600 employees. The committee plans events, wellness challenges and shares up to date health information to all employees.

Events and wellness strategies  for this past year included:

  • The 33rd Annual Cross Town Run Around
  • Walking 4 Wellness Challenge
  • Maintain Don’t Gain Challenge
  • Stress Management Workshops
  • Wellness University
  • Whittle Your Middle Challenge
  • Spring Poker Walk
  • On-site blood draws and flu shots
  • Health risk assessment as well as a culture audit and interest survey
  • “Wellness Wednesday”
  • Weekly emails to all staff keeping everyone up to date on the latest health information as well as any upcoming events or challenges
GFPS Winners

GFPS race Winners of the Spirit Award at The Cross Town Run Around (above). The Start of the race (left).

The staff also has free access to a fitness center where classes such as Zumba, yoga, and circuit training classes are offered at no additional cost!

The Employee Wellness Team is comprised of a variety of individuals from various  departments around our district including: human resources, student assistance, prevention specialists, school  nursing, principals, administrative assistants and of course the teaching staff.

The GFPS Employee Wellness Program is great example of what employee wellness programs should look like! Employee wellness programs and policies have a substantial impact on health care costs, absenteeism, workers compensation costs, and productivity. Most importantly employee wellness programs contribute to healthier, happier Montanans!

If you are interested in finding out more about how to incorporate employee wellness policies into your worksite, please visit the Montana Cancer Control Programs Contractors website. Click on your geographical area to identify a contractor who can answer your questions.

Have questions for the GFPS Wellness Program?

 Contact Jody Murray, Prevention Specialist of Great Falls Public Schools

Phone: 406-268-6772  Email:


Hey Parents, looking for some summertime fun for the kids?

Come down to The Best Western GranTree Inn, in Bozeman Montana, on June 21st for a full day of activities!


The Kid-a-Palooza is a fun summer event featuring different companies, organizations, fundraisers and much more that relates to kids ranging from 3 to 19! Enjoy face painting, a bike safety clinic by the Bozeman Police Department, a bouncy house, and the kids can meet Scruff McGruff the Crime Dog! Many different health professionals – such as chiropractors, dentists, and much more – will also be attending this event. Partnering with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Thrive and Haven, this community event is free and a great way to kick off some summertime fun!


For more information, call Callie Johnerson, Assistant General Manager of the Best Western Plus GranTree Inn

P:406-587-5261       E:      M: 1325 N 7th Ave Bozeman MT





RHI’s 2013 Rural Health Success Story Contest Winner: Providence St. Joseph Medical Center Disaster Preparedness Drill

Providence St. Joseph Medical Center hosted the first regional inter-facility full-scale exercise ever initiated in Lake County. The scenario involved multiple agencies including, Lake County OEM, EMS, Police from multiple jurisdictions, Search & Rescue, Fire, American Red Cross, St. Luke’s Hospital, Spartan Consulting, St. Patrick’s Hospital, ALERT and Kalispell Regional Medical Center, Public and Tribal Health, Salish Kootenai College, Tribal OEM, and many more.


The Lake County Active Shooter 2013 Full-Scale Exercise was developed to test participating agencies Public Information & Warning, Operational Coordination, Operational Communications and Public Health & Medical Services capabilities in response to an Active Shooter incident resulting in multiple casualties and fatalities. The exercise was developed by Spartan Consulting with input, advice, and assistance from representatives from the Lake County exercise design team and followed the guidance set forth in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).

  • Objective 1: Assess and validate Lake County’s Public Information & Warning capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.
  • Objective 2: Assess and validate Lake County’s Operational Coordination capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.
  • Objective 3: Assess and validate Lake County’s Operational Communications capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.
  • Objective 4: Assess and validate Lake County’s Public Health & Medical capabilities and roles in response to an active shooter incident involving multiple casualties.

Public Information & Warning

Strength 1: Use of Public Information Officers (PIO) – All participating agencies either had a pre-designated PIO or appointed one during the incident to manage public information.

Strength 2: Tie in with local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – Due to the active LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Committee) in Lake County, designated PIOs knew to get in touch with the OEM staff (EOC) to coordinate public information activities


Operational Coordination

Strength 3: Participation – Excellent participation from the community in terms of volunteers and participating agencies.

Strength 4: Preparation – Evaluators at each venue were impressed by the level of preparation participating agencies had accomplished since the tabletop exercise in March 2013.

Strength 5: Use of incident management tools and visual aids – ICS vests, wall charts, START Triage tools (tags, tarps, etc.).

Strength 6: Safety – All exercise participants were mindful of doing things safely and as a result there were no real-world injuries reported during the exercise.

Operational Communications

Strength 7: Communications between the scene and St. Joe’s.

Strength 8: Communications between Fire and ALERT and ALERT & St. Luke’s/St. Joe’s

Public Health and Medical Response

Strength 12: Effective management of the patient surge by local hospitals – Key buy in and participation from hospital leadership, training and exercises prior to this activity, a commitment to using the Hospital ICS system, well-planned use of available space and personnel, good motivation and willingness to help by staff, and a smoothly managed Hospital Command Center (HCC) all contributed to supporting the technical expertise of the ED staffs in managing the patient surge. Although St. Luke’s did have minimal staffing due to the weekend and had to respond to a real world incident, St. Joe’s was able to handle the extra workload and prove that the local healthcare system can and will work together effectively.

This project was spearheaded by our Plant Manager Camilla Yamada, who is also our Safety Officer.  The preparation time and energy spent by the  health care facilities, law enforcement, the Tribal College & Law Enforcement Services, Emergency Services and city & county agencies in our valley speaks volumes about the commitment level that we are willing to meet in the effort to make our communities a safer place to live.  We are very fortunate to work with such dedicated and proactive professionals.

RHI’s Rural Health Photo Contest Submissions

[slideshow_deploy id=’3048′]
This year the Montana RHI held its first ever Rural Health Photo Contest in honor of National Rural Health day. Above are all of the photo submissions we received. Congratulations to our contest winners, the City of Livingston’s photo “Soccer in Paradise”, Sage Gardener’s photo “All generations helping out”, and Shelby’s Safe Routes to School Program photo “Ready, set… get active!” A big thanks to all of the communities and organizations that participated in our contest.   Each of these pictures truly depicts what “rural health” means in Montana. Watch for this contest again next year!