FirstLink Spring Newsletter 2024

Page 1



The FirstLink Care and Support Program is here to support the emotional and physical safety of those with mental health or substance use concerns. The program is open to anyone who calls 2-1-1 or 9-8-8, or that is discharged from one of our partnering agencies.

The Care and Support team encourages their participants through scheduled calls and caring cards, reminding them that there will always be someone to pick up the phone if they need to talk.

The Care and Support Program finished 2023 with a total of 10,709 total contacts. They received 1,759 new referrals throughout the year, with 732 of those individuals agreeing to continued follow-up. They were also able to send heartfelt handwritten cards, called caring cards, to 913 participants.

As of the end of February, the program had received 302 new referrals that resulted in 143 individuals signing up for extra support. The impact of these numbers can be shown in participant testimonials. One participant shared with a team member “my mental health has been getting better since you started calling me,” while another said that “I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to call me and talk me through changes that are going on.”

Since the start of 2024, the program has added three new partners. Cass County Public Health, The Heartview Foundation in Dickinson, and Steele County Public Health can now refer their patients to the program for extra support and encouragement to adhere to aftercare plans. FirstLink looks forward to the opportunity to grow the program and reach more individuals in need of help.





Spring 2024

A letter from Executive Director


Spring brings longer days, warmer weather, and a chance to spend more time outside. As tulips start to bloom and baby bunnies can be seen running around, I start to think of new beginnings for my life and FirstLink.

In my life, I have a teen daughter who is starting to drive and learning how to navigate the busy streets of Fargo. My younger daughter, who recently hit double digits, joined the Boy Scouts, and as a result, I got to enjoy winter camp. Some were disappointed, but personally, I thought it was fortunate that we had a mild winter for our winter camping fun.

FirstLink is exploring and jumping into many new beginnings this spring. We are slowly teaming up with 911 dispatch centers throughout North Dakota and Minnesota to attend to calls related to behavioral health. We are working with Quality Health Associates of ND to ensure that our community directory includes all appropriate resources in our communities. We are using the energy that comes with spring to add extra time, thought, and energy into staff care and appreciation. We have been part of Dr. Jill Nelson’s “The People Project: Health through Happiness,” a worksite wellness initiative in collaboration with ReThink Mental Health. The more that I listened to Dr. Nelson’s theories and ideas on life, the more I wanted her to share her knowledge with others. With great honor, she has agreed to speak at our FirstLink annual breakfast.


Thank you for a wonderful Giving Hearts Day!

FirstLink would like to thank our Giving Hearts Day donors and supporters for making this year an amazing success! FirstLink raised over $49,000 on Giving Hearts Day. That is enough for us to answer over 1,600 phone calls from our friends and neighbors in need. For the second year, the FirstLink team hosted a gratitude party with our staff and board members. We celebrated Giving Hearts Day by writing thank you notes to donors and enjoying the glow of Giving Hearts Day. We are already making plans to make Giving Hearts Day 2025 even more impactful.

1 @ 8 A.M. Hilton Garden Inn, Fargo
us as we welcome Dr. Jill Nelson Professor of Counseling, NDSU for a special presentation: Finding Strength through Courage, Compassion & Connection
Annual Breakfast May



2023 was a great year for connecting with the communities we serve and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide. FirstLink is thrilled to share that we presented 120 community trainings, building skills and starting life-saving conversations with over 3,300 participants!

These trainings ranged from one hour, such as our Suicide Risk Assessment training, to two full days of Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). Whether you are a skilled mental health caregiver seeking a refresher or you are just starting to build your toolkit for helping others, we have training for you!

Join FirstLink for one of our upcoming FREE Adult Mental Health First Aid workshops, or keep your eyes peeled for future learning opportunities by visiting

In addition to the trainings offered in 2023, FirstLink connected with communities across the state by attending a variety of conferences, events, and resource fairs. We reached over 6,700 people by hosting a booth at these engagements! We’re excited to share that we’ve maintained the momentum heading into 2024 as FirstLink has already hosted seven booths and over 20 trainings in this year.

In addition to booths and training, we are busy planning our 15th Annual Breakfast! Join us on May 1st at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo to hear more about FirstLink’s mission and witness Dr. Jill Nelson of NDSU’s presentation: “Finding Strength through Courage, Compassion & Connection.”

Tickets are available now at!

988 Increases Accessibility

If you have visited the West Acres Mall, The Sanford Health Athletics Complex at NDSU, or watched a basketball game hosted there this year, you may have noticed new advertisements for the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. These are just a couple of examples of ways our partners are spreading the message of help and hope by raising awareness of the 988 Lifeline.

FirstLink answered more than twice the number of 988 interactions in February 2024 than we did in February of 2023. While this is likely due to many factors, we hope the increased awareness is helping more people feel comfortable reaching out in times of need.

FirstLink is grateful for all the organizations working together to increase awareness of the 988 Lifeline.

This spring, FirstLink’s Outreach Director Jeremy and 988 Coordinator Rachel spoke at the North Dakota 911 Association conference in Bismarck to help build partnerships between 988 and 911 across North Dakota.

FirstLink has been working with Red River Regional Dispatch Center since August 2023. With this partnership and more, we are hoping to provide those who call in the least invasive interventions possible during times of crisis.




With mental health challenges affecting more than one in five individuals over the age of 13, FirstLink continues to be a crucial resource for individuals in need of support. So far, in 2024, we have made over 18,000 contacts! Our callers know they can always reach out for resources or a listening ear. Check out some of the great things they’ve said about our call specialists this year:

I really appreciate you guys. I’m always really thankful to my past self for signing up for this because you guys call at the exact time when I need to talk.

Thank you for listening and letting me talk about this. It helps!

You guys are a good support. You don’t reject me and I don’t feel judged. It’s nice to have people who don’t think I am difficult for my struggles.

4342 15th Ave S #201A Fargo, ND 58103
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.