MHTTCs Implementing Change

MIC Stories: The Nebraska School Mental Health Project

Featuring the Mid-America MHTTC

MIC Stories (MHTTCs Implementing Change) feature technical assistance projects that had a significant impact on practice.

The Need

With the ever-growing need for school mental health services across the state of Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) created the Nebraska School Mental Health Project to provide resources to support school mental health efforts across the state. As part of this project, they identified a need for leadership training and guided strategic planning in implementing comprehensive school mental health systems and best practices.


Mid-America MHTTC worked with NDE to host the Nebraska School Mental Health Institute, a three-day virtual training in September of 2021. The purpose of the training was to provide Educational Service Units (ESUs) and districts with concrete ideas and steps to implement a comprehensive system that supports school mental health. Further technical assistance was provided across the year to NDE, as well as directly to participants, related to implementation questions and concerns.


The NDE and Mid-America MHTTC shared an application outlining the training opportunity and participants were chosen based on their submission of application materials. A total of 41 participants from 13 ESUs and 2 Project AWARE sites across the state of Nebraska were selected to participate. Participants included psychologists, counselors, social workers, educators, and administrators.

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What We Did

Mid-America MHTTC provided training on best practices for implementing comprehensive systems of school mental health using content from the National School Mental Health Best Practices: Implementation Guidance Modules as well as tips for implementing and delivering the implementation guidance content within their ESU. The Institute also involved guided assessment of the quality and implementation of comprehensive school mental health systems, using the School Health Assessment and Performance Evaluation (SHAPE). Following the Institute, Mid-America MHTTC continued to provide technical assistance to NDE as well as ESU leadership as they began to plan for their own institute, engage in strategic planning related to their SHAPE results, and identify goals for implementation.


Mid-America MHTTC’s role in this project was to aid in overcoming the barrier of capacity and training. Using the resources available at Mid-America MHTTC, the team was able to conduct a large-scale training and technical assistance program to alleviate that barrier. Further, NDE was able to provide funding through the project that then allowed participants to be compensated for their time and efforts.

What Changed?

The Nebraska School Mental Health Institute was evaluated using a post-event survey focused on satisfaction, attitudes, and overall feedback.

  • 60% of participants were somewhat satisfied or very satisfied with the Institute
  • 93% agreed that the Institute would benefit their professional development or practice
  • 90% agreed that they would use the information gained at the Institute to change their current practice
  • 83% would recommend the Institute to a colleague
  • 93% reported that the content presented was at least somewhat helpful

Overall, feedback from participants indicated that learning about the National School Mental Health Best Practices: Implementation Guidance Modules, as well as using the SHAPE assessment tool, were useful in thinking about and planning for implementation within each of their agencies. We further learned that additional strategies for how to share this information with others were needed, and this feedback guided the technical assistance calls that occurred throughout the year. Feedback also indicated that an in-person option would be beneficial to aid in engagement.

What's Next?

The next steps for the project are to continue providing technical assistance to NDE as well as ESU Leadership, as sites plan to roll out a similar leadership training around the National School Mental Health Best Practices: Implementation Guidance Modules. Feedback from individual sites has also led to additional trainings around educator well-being.

Lessons Learned

Mid-America MHTTC learned that the state and agency level professionals found use in learning the school mental health best practices outlined in the National School Mental Health Best Practices: Implementation Guidance Modules, as well as engaging in strategic planning with the SHAPE assessment tool. The Nebraska School Mental Health Institute was a successful project and Mid-America MHTTC would like to continue to support educational agencies within each of the four states in the region in a similar manner.

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Mid-America MHTTC, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is housed within the University of Nebraska Medical Center and serves the priorities of SAMHSA Region 7 states including: Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. Mid-America MHTTC has a focus on integrated behavioral health and primary care, schools and mental health training programs. Our overall goal is to assist mental health programs and providers to establish evidence-based programs that are locally supported and sustainable over time.

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