School Mental Health Summit

SMH Summit

BHECN held the 2017 School Mental Health Summit on June 9th at Educational Service Unit #3 in La Vista. This year's topic was "Disseminating and Sustaining Best Practices in School Mental Health." Around 150 stakeholders attended, including school personnel and administrators, mental health professionals, and state and public officials. Thirty people from Kearney and six people from Scottsbluff participated in the summit via remote broadcast.

Keynote presenter, Sharon Hoover, Ph.D., co-director of the Center for School Mental Health, is a leading figure in advancing school mental health research, training, policy and practice at national, state, and local levels. She provided a national perspective on best practices to implement evidence-based mental health strategies.

“Schools are a great venue for early screening and identification of mental health challenges,” Dr. Hoover said. She encouraged participants to focus on incremental change and select a small number of best practices that will have the greatest impact on your program.  

Area leaders in policy, practice and education presented an overview of “Critical Insights into School Mental Health in Nebraska” including an overview of school-based services, results of a recent statewide school behavioral health survey, and a review of current and potential policy.

Participants broke into five work groups on training, clinical and evidence-based practices, policy, sustainability/funding and workforce. The groups discussed the current landscape of these topics and potential short-term and long-term goals to continue to advance school mental health in Nebraska.

“School mental health is an effective pathway to increase mental health and substance use services across the state,” said BHECN Director, Howard Liu, M.D.  “Whether behavioral health providers are embedded in the school or whether teachers are trained to be sensitive to trauma and common childhood disorders, we rely on school professionals as partners. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Sharon Hoover, applauded school leaders, advocates and providers on their vision to provide evidence-based behavioral health care to all Nebraska communities.”

This Summit wrapped up BHECN’s three-year focus on school mental health. This effort will be carried forward by the Steering Committee partners, Dr. Dan Schnoes, CEO of Educational Service Unit #3, and Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation, and BHECN will continue to be involved in this initiative.