This fall, the WICHE Behavioral Health Program (BHP) hosted two multi-day academies aimed at bolstering the knowledge and skills of individuals working on the front lines of suicide prevention and other mental health initiatives in rural areas.
One of the gatherings, held Oct. 2-4 in Golden, Colo., brought together 20 individuals from New Hampshire, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia to help prepare them for the launch of federally funded Together With Veterans (TWV) programs in their rural communities. They were provided with training on evidence-based suicide prevention strategies, a five-phase assessment and planning process, and methods for facilitating community partnerships. WICHE will host two additional academies over the next year, with the goal of increasing the number of TWV implementation sites to 22 by the end of next year.
The other event, the inaugural Mountain Plains Leadership Academy, was held Sept. 9-10 in Boulder, Colo. Attendees included emerging rural leaders from six states -- Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming -- as well as representatives from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Alaska’s Native Tribal Health Consortium, the Hogg Foundation at the University of Texas, and The University of Newcastle in Australia.
The academy focused on introducing mental-health workforce resources and strategies specifically designed for rural communities, and included presentations on leadership, peer workforce models, the WICHE Psychology Internship Program, and the Orange Declaration, put forth by a national collaboration of eminent researchers and service providers in Australia to address inadequate mental health delivery systems in rural and remote communities. In upcoming months, academy attendees will participate in several Echo-like calls and a private Facebook group to continue sharing ideas and solutions while developing an ongoing leadership cohort