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Gov. Ricketts Announces Upcoming Test Nebraska Sites, Designates May as “Mental Health Awareness Month”

Media Contacts:  

Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970

Justin Pinkerman, 402-471-1967


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts Announces Upcoming Test Nebraska Sites, Designates May as “Mental Health Awareness Month”



Gov. Ricketts (podium) and DHHS Director of Behavioral Health Sheri Dawson (standing, far left)

at today’s press conference.


Video from today’s briefing is available by clicking here.

 Governor Press Release 5.15.2020 - SPANISH.pdf

LINCOLN – Today, at his daily coronavirus briefing, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that Test Nebraska sites will be in seven communities next week.  Testing will occur in Beatrice, Hastings, Kearney, Lincoln, Omaha, Seward, and York.


Gov. Ricketts also designated May as Mental Health Awareness Month and Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month in Nebraska.  Sheri Dawson, Director of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), accepted the official proclamation from the Governor.  She emphasized the mental health challenges of the ongoing pandemic and gave advice for prioritizing mental well-being.


Gov. Ricketts: Test Nebraska

·       We continue to encourage people to take the assessment.

·       Testing is taking place today in Lincoln and Omaha, and locations will open in Dakota City and Scottsbluff later in the week.

·       Next week, Test Nebraska will be in Beatrice, Hastings, Kearney, Lincoln, Omaha, Seward, and York.


Gov. Ricketts: Mental Health Month

·       This May, it is especially important to focus on mental health.  We know that the coronavirus pandemic has added uncertainty, altered daily routines, and caused social isolation. 

·       In recognition of these issues, I am proclaiming May as Mental Health Awareness Month and Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month in the state of Nebraska.


Sheri Dawson: Mental Health Month

·       One in five Nebraskans experiences mental illness or substance abuse.  That includes adults and children.

·       We have an opportunity to normalize the conversation about mental health and mental illness.

·       This month, we’re encouraging individuals to educate themselves about the signs of mental health distress.   

o  Withdrawal

§  A change of behavior in how someone interacts with others.

o  Agitation

§  A change in mood, such as increased anger or irritability.

o  Hopelessness

§  Feelings of being trapped and unable to get out of what someone is going through.

o  Change in personal care or daily activities

§  A change in someone’s daily habits, such as wanting to sleep all day.

o  Change in personality

§  Someone seems joyless or unable to experience life as usual.

·       We’re also advising Nebraskans to practice these strategies to prioritize mental health:

o  Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.  Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

o  Have fun and be creative with activities. 

o  Take care of your body.

§  Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.

§  Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

§  Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.

§  Avoid overeating, alcohol, and drugs.

o  Make time to unwind.  Make time for the activities you enjoy.

o  Keep a regular schedule to lessen worry and anxiety.

o  Connect with others.  Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

o  Stay connected through video calls with loved ones and friends.

o  Participate in virtual faith-based communities or other groups that may be supportive to your well-being.

·       You are not alone.  Help is available.  Nebraska has behavioral health providers that are ready to serve you.  

o  To find one near you, visit the Network of Care page by clicking here.

·       There are also a number of hotlines that stand ready to help.

o  The Nebraska Family Helpline: 1-888-866-8660

o  SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990

o  The Nebraska Rural Response Hotline: 1-800-464-0258

o  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.


Full video of today’s press briefing will is available by clicking here.