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Welcome to Essential Conversations, a podcast for behavioral health providers in Region 7 (IA, KS, MO, and NE). Join us as we explore topics related to behavioral health and addiction, including stigma, trauma informed care, equity and diversity, leadership, and more.  

This project is produced by the Mid-America Addiction Technology Transfer Center HHS Region 7 (MATTC) and is funded by SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The content on this podcast does not necessarily reflect the views of SAMHSA.

Check out the Virtual Room of Refuge at https://bit.ly/communityroomofrefuge.

Season 3 Episodes 

  • This Changes Everything: In this episode, we have an enlightening conversation with Starla Brennan of Amethyst Place about the ways trauma-informed caring changes how we see and respond to so-called “bad” behaviors in those we serve, in our colleagues, in our loved ones, and in ourselves; the importance of maintaining curiosity; and compassionate, effective ways to remove barriers of fear and shame to build trust and deepen our relationships.
  • Trauma Informed Caring: Rose, Thorn, and Seed: Available October 8th:Our conversation with Doug Burgess and Kreasha Williams, both of University Health Behavioral Health, centers on personal practices that allow us to both connect with others and care for ourselves in trauma informed ways, and important reminders that our work to integrate trauma informed caring is an ongoing learning process.
  • Trauma Informed Caring: Connecting with Your Square Squad: Jennifer Manuleleua and Merideth Rose, both of Community Services League, share with us how trauma informed caring has transformed not only their work, but their lives and their community through genuine connection with other people.


Season 2 Episodes


Season 1 Episodes

  • Self-Care: In the 1st episode we discuss the importance of self-care for behavioral health leaders with Dena Sneed, the Director of the Center for Trauma Informed Innovation at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, MO
  • Race & COVID-19: During this episode, we discuss how to have a conversation about race in the workplace. Our guests' Marla Smith, a Behavioral Health Coach at Heartland Family Service in Iowa and Vladimir Sainte, a Team Leader from Truman Medical Centers in MO, share important considerations and tips for behavioral health leaders who are navigating these conversations.
  • The Importance of Housing & Employment: During this episode we discuss social determinants of health and the importance of employment and housing with Suzanne Watson from Southwest IA Mental Health and Disability Services, and Bill Baerentzen from the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska and Mid-America Mental Health Technology Transfer Center. Our guests' share stories that speak to power of social factors in people's mental health a recovery, how funding mechanisms have shifted during COVID-19, and future planning recommendations for behavioral health providers.
  • Psychiatrists' View of Supporting Recovery in 2020 & Beyond: During this episode we discuss Psychiatrists' View of Supporting Recovery with Dr. Melissa O'Dell from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE, and Dr. Doug Burgess from Truman Medical Centers and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine in Kansas City, MO. During this episode, our guests' share:
    • What they are seeing in depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. 
    • Misconceptions about medication for depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders
    • Advice for those who may be experiencing issues with depression, anxiety, or substance use disorders for the first time
  • Post Pandemic Trends in Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder: During this episode we discuss post pandemic trends in mental health and substance use disorder. We are joined by Susan Whitmore, the President and CEO of First Call in Kansas City, MO and Topher Hansen, the President and CEO of CenterPointe in Lincoln, NE. Our guests' share their perspectives on positive outcomes in BH due to COVID-19 and their hopes for the field in the next 20-years.


*Season 1 was a collaboration by the Mid-America Addiction and Mental Health Technology Transfer Centers and is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Although funded by SAMHSA, the content on this podcast does not necessarily reflect the views of SAMHSA