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Welcome to season 2 of Essential Conversations, a podcast for behavioral health providers in Region 7 (IA, KS, MO, and NE). This season will address stigma, highlight appropriate language, provide education on how to determine if substance use is becoming a challenge, and will address misconceptions of substance use. Essential Conversations is a podcast intended for behavioral health (BH) and substance use disorder (SUD) providers. During each episode, we will interview a subject matter expert on a timely topic and explore tips designed to help the BH and SUD workforce in Region 7.

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 DisorderDuring 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