Mid-America MHTTC Newsletter
MAY 2020

April has come and gone. In what feels like the blink of an eye, we have uprooted long-held plans and promoted new programming focused on transitioning to this new normal. It has not been easy, but we are committed to making these changes as efficiently and thoughtfully as possible in order to support mental health workers across our region and beyond.

For one, our Center and the MHTTC Network as a whole have homed in on telehealth training. As a Center in a predominantly rural region, we know that telehealth is a proven medium for delivering care remotely. But while large portions of the U.S. are physical distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become a critical component of our health care system. We know many providers have yet to discover all of the benefits of telehealth, so be sure to visit the page linked above for a wealth of resources and virtual training sessions on how to make the most of the platform.

The closure of schools also has posed a unique set of challenges to educators and mental health providers. Our Center is acutely aware of those needs and is working hard to provide training and technical assistance. So, too, is the MHTTC Network, and you can find a repository of guides and upcoming events here.

In this newsletter, you will find Mid-America MHTTC news and resources pertaining to these hot topics, an update on our serious mental illness program, and a staff spotlight on our project manager, Shelbie Johnson.

We at the Mid-America MHTTC are grateful for your continued engagement. If you need anything, do not hesitate to reach out.

Best wishes,

The Team at Mid-America MHTTC
We hope to connect with you at one of our events! If you see us, give us a shout-out by using the hashtag  #mhttctravels .
Mid-America TTC Advisory Board Meeting
April 30-May 1 | ONLINE
Program Limited to Select Participants
Mental Health Month - May 1-31
Children's Mental Health Awareness Week - May 2-8
Memorial Day - May 25
TLC Tuesdays series concludes; MHTTC Network to provide additional telehealth training
The five-part series Telehealth Learning and Consultation (TLC) Tuesdays concluded April 28 after regularly drawing more than 1,000 registrants from across the U.S. per webinar.

The series, produced in collaboration with the Mountain Plains MHTTC and Mid-America ATTC, struck a chord with many mental health providers who are taking their services online as the COVID-19 pandemic forces the closure of clinics, schools and workplaces to visitors.

Because of the pervasive need, however, the MHTTC Network is developing a sister series to deliver telehealth training through May. We will let you know when the series has launched. In the meantime, bookmark the MHTTC Network's Responding to COVID-19 | Telehealth page for more.

Access TLC Tuesdays webinar recordings and slides here.
The team takes a virtual group photo after the April 21 TLC Tuesdays webinar on telehealth for children and adolescents.
New resource: HHS Region 7 COVID-19 Resource Guide
The HHS Region 7 COVID-19 Resource Guide features practical health and education resources in HHS Region 7 states β€” Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska β€” in response to a changing health and wellness landscape resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Please use these resources as you see fit or share with colleagues, patients or clients.

MPS behavior coach training shifts online, emphasizes self-care amid COVID-19 pandemic
The Mid-America MHTTC's April 16 training of behavioral health providers at Millard Public Schools had to quickly shift gears after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the trainees out of their respective schools.

β€œThe pandemic put all of our planning and resources to the test with how best to meet the mental and behavioral health needs of students and families,” said Brandy Clarke, Ph.D., LP, project director of the Mid-America MHTTC. β€œNo one was prepared for this, but we saw great efforts to rally together to address these needs."

Rather than continuing with previously scheduled training on tiered problem-solving, trainers Erika Franta, PhD, and Mindy Chadwell, PhD, focused upon self-care and teaming in light of the new treatment landscape. Attendees shared their experiences facing new challenges, including reaching children and their families at home and managing working and parenting full-time.

β€œI think a lot of grace just has to be spread around, and a lot of things we have to give up and say, β€˜I’m doing the best I can, and this too shall pass,’” Lisa Meister, school counselor at Kiewit Middle School, said during the training.
New resource: Telehealth Toolbox for School Personnel
The Telehealth Toolbox for School Personnel is a practical and concise guide to incorporating telehealth into your routine as a provider working with students. The toolbox is in development, but right now you can access an overview handout entitled Getting Started. Emphasis is placed on four key components: 1.) How to Navigate Privacy and Technology; 2.) How to Engage Your Team; 3.) How to Connect with Families; and 4.) How to Decide Essential Services.

Serious Mental Illness
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our behavioral health care system is changing and persons with serious mental illness (SMI) and their health care teams must interface in new ways. Like many of us, people with SMI are experiencing fear and anxiety from the threat of becoming sick, grieving the loss of loved ones, struggling with their isolation, feeling distressed or confused by the messaging on TV and online, and having difficulties with transportation and meeting their basic needs. In response, many treatment and rehabilitation services have switched to telehealth β€” for example, Community Alliance, a community-based mental health agency in Omaha, established telehealth capacity in their group homes and medication management, therapy and primary care clinics. That way, clients without the equipment for telehealth have safe and secure options to talk to their prescribers and therapists.
Evidence-based practices such as assertive community treatment, supported employment, permanent supportive housing and peer support are typically face-to-face with limited telehealth options. These community-based services are important to help persons with serious mental illness maintain housing stability, employment, social supports and to live meaningful inclusive lives. HHS Region 7 providers are adapting such services and taking precautions to mitigate spread of the virus. For instance, housing programs have either stopped admissions or require 14-day quarantine for new residents, day rehabilitation programs have temporarily closed and some transitioned to community support services, and community support staff are wearing gloves and masks during home visits.

The need for telehealth services has never been this pronounced. If you are treating persons with serious mental illness, we encourage you to take advantage of the wealth of resources available through the Telehealth Learning and Consultation (TLC) Tuesdays series. The weekly webinars have concluded, but they can be accessed for free on the website along with FAQ documents, curated telehealth resources and more.

In other news, our Center's SMI team is collaborating with the Mid-America Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) to produce a five-part podcast series for the behavioral health workforce in response to COVID-19. The first episode, on self-care, will be available in the coming weeks. We will update you when this dynamic new series is available.
Each newsletter we highlight our work in one of our core training areas: school mental health, integrated behavioral health in primary care, serious mental illness and behavioral health workforce development.
Shelbie Johnson, M.Ed.
Shelbie Johnson, M.Ed., joined the Mid-America MHTTC in August 2019. A proud Louisianan who in 2008 obtained her bachelor's degree in history from the University of New Orleans and in 2017 obtained her Master of Education from the University of Cincinnati, Johnson draws upon her leadership and organizational skills as the Center's project manager. If you have worked with the Center on any training initiatives over the past eight months, you can bet Johnson played an integral role in their planning and execution.

"I like solving problems, planning, collaborating with others, and have a desire to never stop learning," Johnson says.

Before bringing her expertise to our team, Johnson worked at History Nebraska in Lincoln and at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. During the Mardi Gras season, she shared with us her home-state pride by bringing into our headquarters not one but four king cakes. Suffice to say, the Center does not take for granted Johnson's expert steering and joyful presence.

When she is not orchestrating the planning and logistics of Mid-America MHTTC events and training initiatives, Johnson says she is likely to be cooking, drinking a glass of wine or aperol spritz, and relaxing.
Each newsletter we shed light on an exceptional contributor to Mid-America MHTTC's mission.
You have reached the conclusion of this issue. Thank you for reading!
Mid-America MHTTC | 402.552.7697 | MHTTCnetwork.org/midamerica
The Mid-America Mental Health Technology Transfer Center is a SAMHSA-funded program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The Mid-America MHTTC provides training in evidence-based practices to the four-state area of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. 
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