Area of focus

Southeast MHTTC Area of Focus

The Southeast Mental Health Technology Transfer Center is based in Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.  The focus of the center is on using a public health framework to develop leadership capacity and train providers with the goal of improving care for individuals with mental health conditions throughout Region IV, comprising 8 southeastern states.


What is Public Mental Health?

There are two key dimensions to public mental health.  First, it means ensuring a central role for mental health in all public health initiatives. This includes addressing natural and human-made disasters, as well as including mental health as a part of efforts to address the overall health of population. The MHTTC will be partnering with the Public Health Training Centers program and SAMHSA’s national Disaster Technical Assistance Center to develop resources to address public health disasters including the aftermath of recent hurricanes in the region.

Second, it means taking a systems perspective when working to improve population outcomes.  Adults and children treated in the public mental health sector face a number of challenges including poverty and social isolation; stigma; obstacles in accessing general health and mental health services; and adverse health behaviors.  These difficulties lead to adverse public health outcomes including reduced quality of life and shortened lifespans.   Improving these outcomes requires understanding potential facilitators and barriers to the uptake of best practices including state and federal policies; the structure and functioning of public sector delivery systems (including its workforce); and financing.  Implementation strategies that account for systems-level challenges are needed to ensure the uptake of evidence-based practices in public mental health settings. 

As a part of its regional needs assessment, the Southeast MHTTC is mapping each state’s public sector mental health infrastructure.  In addition to provider trainings, we will be working to build mental health leadership capacity across the region.


Why is a Public Health Approach Needed in the Southeast United States?Region 4 map

With 8 states and 20% of the U.S. population, Region IV is the largest HHS region.  These states have high rates of poverty, adverse health behaviors, and racial and ethnic health disparities.  Relative to this need, the Southeast has relatively few resources available.  A public health strategy is needed to optimize the impact of training and support activities in this region.


What sorts of Public Health experience and expertise can the Southeast MHTTC Provide?

The MHTTC project team, expert consultants, and community partners have extensive experience in developing, testing, and disseminating evidence-based practices for adults and children treated in public sector settings.  They also have expertise in understanding quality, financing, and health policies in the public mental health sector.

The Southeast MHTTC was developed in partnership with the central office for the Public Health Training Centers (PHTC) program, which is also based in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory. The PHTC has expertise in providing training to public health practitioners throughout the region, including developing state-of-the-art distance learning approaches for reaching the large and geographically disbursed practitioner network in the region.


Region IV (Southeast) Resources and Contacts:

Region IV Public Health Training Center:   Provides public health workforce trainings and student field placements within the Southeast.

Region IV Addiction Technology Transfer Center:  Provides technology transfer activities to increase the awareness, knowledge and skills of substance use practitioners and pre-service professionals.

Region IV Prevention Technology Transfer Center: Provides training and technical assistance services to individuals and organizations in the substance misuse prevention field


National Training and Technical Assistance Contact and Resources

MHTTC National Coordinating Office  Provides leadership, infrastructure, and support to the MHTTC Network.

SMI Adviser  Provides access to education, data, and consultations from a national network of experts to help clinicians, patients, and families  make evidence-based treatment decisions.

Disaster Technical Assistance Center: DTAC helps states, U.S. territories, tribes, and local providers plan for and respond to behavioral health needs after a disaster.


Relevant Readings

Wahlbeck, K. (2015). Public mental health: the time is ripe for translation of evidence into practice. World Psychiatry, 14(1), 36-42.

Purtle, J., Klassen, A. C., Kolker, J., & Buehler, J. W. (2016). Prevalence and correlates of local health department activities to address mental health in the United States. Preventive medicine, 82, 20-27.