New Journal Publication! What Happens When Training Goes Virtual?

January 14, 2021

The Northwest School Mental Health Team recently published an article in School Mental Health: A Multidisciplinary Research and Practice Journal detailing how our transition to an all virtual training format due to COVID-19 led to greater reach and impact. Access here.

Several highlights include:

  • The transition to online training and technical assistance resulted in a large increase in the number of participants per event;
  • We reached a more diverse audience following the move to online training, with larger percentages of individuals from racial/ethnic minority groups and more diversity in participants' academic training;
  • Web analytics for online resources indicate significant growth in web traffic and page views following the onset of Governor-mandated restrictions to large gatherings in response to COVID-19;
  • Despite the above-mentioned changes, participant perceptions of the quality of trainings were more positive than ratings of pre-COVID-19 events;
  • A training that targeted families and caregivers rather than mental health professionals was well-received and was associated with the adoption of several specific youth suicide prevention behaviors.


The Northwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) provides workforce training and technical assistance (TA) to support evidence-based school mental health practices. Historically, this support targeted school professionals through in-person and online trainings, workshops, and coaching. However, in response to COVID-19 restrictions, all support moved to online formats, and the Center introduced trainings for families and caregivers. The purpose of this article is to present preliminary process and outcome data that compare the reach and impact of support before and following COVID-19-related restrictions. Results suggest that transition to online support resulted in a wider reach and a more diverse audience, with no decrease in trainee satisfaction and perceived impact. Furthermore, families and caregivers reported positive gains in knowledge and behaviors following participation in a virtual youth suicide prevention training. Together, these findings suggest that online training and TA can provide tangible benefits to professionals and family members who support student mental health.

Citation: Olson, J. R., Lucy, M., Kellogg, M. A., Schmitz, K., Berntson, T., Stuber, J., & Bruns, E. J. What happens when training goes virtual? Adapting training and technical assistance for the school mental health workforce in response to COVID-19. School Mental Health 2021.

Want more information and school mental health resources? Visit the Northwest MHTTC's School Mental Health page and sign up for our monthly newsletter for regular updates about events, trainings, and resources available to the Northwest region.

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