Nebraska News Service Podcast logo

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The conversation about mental health in adolescents and young adults has become increasingly important and is constantly shifting and turning, according to experts. Wellness: Mental Health in Schools is a podcast that connects with those that are at the forefront of these conversations to understand the factors, obstacles and solutions to improving the mental wellbeing of students. 

Episode 1: Connecting with students about mental health in the age of social media

Social media has implemented itself into all facets of peoples’ lives. With the touch of a screen, we have access to more information than we ever dreamed of. Inevitably, this has a ripple effect into the lives of students, the way they interact with one another as well as their teachers. The first episode includes a conversation with Carla Brauer of Sidney Public Schools and a discussion about social media, its effects on students, and in what ways it has impacted the way teachers interact with students.

Episode 2: Mental Health in rural Nebraska

Schools play a significant role in the mental health of students. Administrations are constantly searching for ways to adjust to students’ needs and provide the support that they need. Rural areas struggle to find resources and providers, and more than 60% of rural Americans live in mental health professional shortage areas. The second episode includes a conversation with Andy Cronin of Valentine Community Schools and a discussion about mental health, student-teacher relationships and resources available to schools.

Episode 3: The Kim Foundation and Project Harmony

Providing mental health services in schools requires resources. The Kim Foundation is a nonprofit organization that strives to increase awareness, reduces stigma and provides education and resources related to mental illnesses and suicide prevention in Nebraska. Project Harmony’s mission is to protect and support children, collaborate with professionals and engage the community to end child abuse and neglect. Julia Hebenstreit, the Executive Director at The Kim Foundation and Jude Connelly, a Licensed mental health professional and the Director of Connections Program at Project Harmony discuss how their organizations are actively working to increase mental health resources in Nebraska schools.

Episode 4: Nebraska’s Educational Service Units Influence on mental health

Educational Service Units, or ESUs divide school districts into geographic regions and provide support to districts in technology, systems, professional learning and special education support and services. Recently, ESUs have been helping with student mental health by providing support training, service providers and clinicians. McKayla LaBorde and Sarah Hamilton, both work for Nebraska’s Educational Service Unit (ESU) 3. LaBorde is the Executive Director of Student Services at ESU 3 and Hamilton is a clinical social worker, who for the past 11 years has been working at a school district as a behavioral coach. LaBorde and Hamilton discuss how schools work creatively to provide mental health resources to students.