We were honored to host nearly 175 Nebraskans for the Nebraska School Mental Health Forum on Friday, June 8. We had Senators, providers, administrators, teachers, counselors, psychologists, social workers, and many more join together to learn from national expert, Sharon Hoover, as well as lay the groundwork for the best steps for Nebraska to move forward in this important area. The feedback after the event was overwhelmingly positive. So much so, that we are now planning to do a day and a half conference in Kearney in 2019!
The day resulted in five workgroups focusing on workforce, sustainability and policy, collaboration in service delivery models, evidence-based practice, and evaluation of school mental health services. Each area had robust dialogue and came up with 3-5 action items to help move our state forward in their area of focus by identifying strengths and opportunities for growth and change. We will be using the information gathered that day for a variety of purposes, but most importantly to help us best determine our direction moving forward and areas of focus in future conferences.
There were many highlights to the day, but an especially heartwarming moment was when the talented youth involved in Musical Kids started us off with three inspirational songs to set the tone for the day and remind us of why we are there and doing what we do each day. My personal favorite was their rendition of “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper.
We are so appreciative of our Steering Committee who helped us plan such a fantastic, meaningful day, as well as Dr. Howard Liu and the rest of the BHECN staff for entrusting us to continue this work. Members of the Steering Committee included representatives from: The Kim Foundation, ESU3, Region 6 Behavioral Healthcare, Nebraska Department of Education, ESU 13, ESU 7, CRCC, Catholic Charities, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Brownell Talbot School, BHECN, and DHHS. We could not have put this together without the help of each and every one of them!
We are gathering again in August to start the planning for the 2019 Nebraska School Mental Health Conference. We know how important these efforts are, and at the core of the work will remain the youth and the families who need to be served. We want to see a stronger youth and family voice in years to come. We also will work to determine the most effective system for the state of Nebraska where we can leverage community services with the strengths of existing school districts and communities. Working together, I’m confident we can come to solutions that are innovative and sustainable that will best serve those in need.
If you have any interest in taking part of the planning for the 2019 conference, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation
Julia Hebenstreit is the Executive Director of The Kim Foundation. She received her J.D. from Creighton University in 2005, and her BS in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002. She has been with The Kim Foundation since 2011, and prior to that worked for local non-profits doing development, strategic planning, communications and advancement. She has a passion for helping people and improving lives, and serves on the Executive Committee for Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, as the 2015 Hill Day State Captain for the state of Nebraska, and as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, BHECN Advisory Committee, RESPECT Advisory Board, Connections Advisory Board and the Project Propel Planning Group.