2018 Rural Behavioral Health Webinar Series
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2018 Rural Behavioral Health Webinar Series

The 2018 Rural Behavioral Health Webinar Series seeks to provide information and resources, on innovative approaches to address the needs and challenges of rural community behavioral health. These approaches are embedded in a public health framework that acknowledges the role that social, economic, and geographic elements play in the lives of individuals and how it impacts behavioral health and well-being, especially for those in rural settings. Based on the needs of rural communities, direct attention has been placed on providing information and resources on how to create and sustain
services and supports so that rural communities are able to reduce the impact of behavioral health problems and promote a good quality of life for the entire community, including those with behavioral health challenges. The webinar series provides an opportunity for participants to learn from experts and each other about innovations, practices, and programs focused on rural communities. 

Webinar 1: Human Trafficking: A Rural Perspective
May 24, 2018, 3:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

Human Trafficking is often referred to as modern-day slavery realizing horrific impact on children, youth and their families both globally and nationally.  The realities of this issue are challenging for all communities to recognize and address throughout the nation.  Rural communities have particular challenges regarding human trafficking.  These challenges come as a result of factors such as the isolated, geography and transportation routes that facilitate human trafficking and allow it to go unnoticed.  This isolation further challenges opportunities for prevention and intervention services.  The lack of economic opportunities in many rural areas also make individuals more vulnerable to trafficking. 

Through a public health approach, child-serving systems in rural communities can address human trafficking to both prevent the crime and to facilitate the identification, assessment, evaluation and delivery of services for children, youth and their families who are victims of human trafficking.   In particular, schools have an important role to play in preventing and responding to the human trafficking of children.  This webinar will provide information and resources to assist school districts in developing policies, procedures, evidence-based prevention programs and practices as well as focused services for those who are victims or at risk of being trafficked. 


Participants in this webinar will learn about:

  • Data on the prevalence of the human trafficking of children in rural communities and schools;
  • The risk factors and indicators of the human trafficking of children, particularly in the context of schools; and,
  • Evidenced-based and promising prevention and intervention programs and
    practices that use a public health approach and can be implemented in school and communities.

Presenters: Karen Gentile, LCSW-C, Esq., Public Health Advisor, Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), SAMHSA, Eve BirgeEducation Program Specialist, Office of Safe and Healthy Students, U.S. Dept. of Education, Carrie Freshour, LCSW-C, Chief Operating Officer, Araminta Freedom Initiative, Kevin Lavine, MA., Prof. School of Criminal Justice, Jackson State University.

Facilitator: Karen Francis, Ph.D., Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research (AIR)

Webinar 2: The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Children and Youth in Rural Communities- How Schools and Communities are Responding
July 19, 2018, 3:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

In the U.S. opioid overdoses accounted for more than 42,000 deaths in 2016, more than any previous year on record. An estimated 40% of opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid (https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html). The opioid epidemic has devastating impact across the country and in particular for children, youth and families in rural communities. In fact “rates of drug-related deaths in rural areas has surpassed those in urban centers (https://www.usda.gov/topics/opioids). Strategies to address this epidemic must take approaches that focus on prevention, intervention and treatment. Successful implementation of these strategies will also require a comprehensive public health approach involving multiple service systems include schools in rural communities. This webinar will discuss strategies necessary to build the capacity of rural communities to address the needs of children, youth and families who are victims of this epidemic in rural communities. 

Participants in this webinar will learn about:

·         The impact of the opioid epidemic in rural communities through the presentation of data related to causes and drivers;

·         Federal, state and local efforts to address this crisis in rural communities through prevention, intervention and treatment service and supports;

·         The role of schools and community-based organizations in addressing the issue for children, youth and families; and,

·         Available funding for rural communities to address the opioid epidemic



Jennifer Loeffler-Cobia, MS, Senior Researcher, American Institutes for Research

Grace Schoessow, MS, Early Childhood Mental Health Coordinator, Greene County Educational Service Center

Facilitator: Karen Francis, Ph.D., Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research (AIR)

Webinar 3: Addressing the needs of Young People with Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) through a Comprehensive Continuum of Services and Supports
September 6, 2018, 3:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time

What does a comprehensive approach to mental health services and supports look like in rural communities? How do we ensure that the strategies to effectively address the mental health and overall well-being of children and youth in rural and tribal schools and communities includes multi-system partnerships, family engagement, and youth involvement? How do we ensure that these services and supports are guided by the principles of cultural and linguistic competence? Many rural communities face challenges and disparities in meeting the needs of young people and their families who need mental health services and supports. These challenges may even be greater when addressing the needs of young people who need more intensive services and supports. This webinar will focus on discussing strategies to expand the adoption of comprehensive mental health support of youth with serious emotional disturbances (SED) in rural schools and communities.  During the webinar, a system of care (SOC) approach will be discussed to highlight the importance of interagency collaboration, individualized and strength-based practices, and cultural competence for implementation of comprehensive mental health supports. Additionally, it will focus on system of care and wrap around in tribal communities. This webinar will also provide examples of strategies for families and youth to work in partnership with public and private organizations, ensuring supports are effective and build on the individual’s strengths and needs.
Participants in this webinar will learn about:

  • Effective strategies to implement a comprehensive approach to address the needs of children and youth with SED in rural and tribal schools and communities;
  • The importance of effective youth and family engagement;
  • Strategies to engage multi-system partners in these efforts through a system of care approach; and
  • The Montana Tribal Wraparound Approach


  • Kurt D. Michael, Ph.D., Aeschleman Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Appalachian State University
  • Lynda Gargan, Ph.D., Executive Director, The National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
  • Don Wetzel, Jr., American Indian Youth Development Coordinator, Montana Office of Public Instruction
  • Crystal Hickman, Wraparound Couch, Montana Office of Public Instruction
  • Facilitator: Karen Francis, Ph.D., Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research (AIR)

The 2018 Rural Behavioral Health Webinar Series in supported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Mental Health Promotion Branch, Division of Prevention, Traumatic Stress, & Special Programs, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in collaboration with the American Institutes for Research (AIR).

Taccess resources and information on rural behavioral health please visit http://ruralbehavioralhealth.org