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Hill Day 2016

Earlier this month I joined seven fellow Nebraskans on the Hill in Washington, D.C. for the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Hill Day. It was a jam-packed three days of meetings with our delegation, informational sessions with national leaders, networking with peers and colleagues from throughout the country, and advocating for those impacted by behavioral health issues from our community.

When meeting with our delegation we focused on a few issues around the Expand Excellence in Mental Health Act, Mental Health First Aid Act, Mental Health Access Improvement Act, and the Mental Health in Schools Act. We are grateful to Representative Ashford who has already signed on to two of these, as well as Representative Fortenberry who has signed on to one. Their leadership and commitment to improving the mental health services in our state is genuine and does not go unnoticed. Thank you! Our hope is that many of these will advance this year and we are proud to be part of the discussion. We are hoping other members of our delegation will consider supporting these as well. Visit the National Council’s website to view a more in-depth discussion about each of these. Thank you to each of you who made the journey east to join us on the Hill to advocate for those we serve daily. I can’t wait to see you all back there next year!

Another exciting event that happened this month was the BHECN School Mental Health Conference that focused on trauma in our schools. The content was incredible this year and the keynote speaker, Marleen Wong, who is a leading national expert in this field, provided a wealth of information on trauma and PTSD after several traumatic events that have faced our country in the last couple of decades. There were two panels, several breakout sessions, and an opportunity to network in the vendor booth area while learning about resources available in the community. It was a fantastic day, and I just want to thank BHECN and the rest of the planning committee for putting on such a tremendous conference!

There is a unique opportunity coming up to help raise awareness about mental health, suicide prevention, and your organization! MAHA Music Festival will take place on August 20, 2016 at Stinson Park in Omaha. This festival attracts at least 9,000 people each year and has grown to become THE music festival in the area. There is always a community piece to the event, and this year the board has decided to focus on mental health. If you’re interested in taking part and having a booth for your organization at the Community Village, visit the website and fill out the brief application to be considered. I’ve attended several years and will attest to what a fun-filled day it is with a genuine community feel and a great opportunity to raise awareness to a diverse audience.

We know there are other amazing things being done in the community, so please keep us updated on the good work each of you are doing!


Julia Hebenstreit, Executive Director of The Kim Foundation

Julia Hebenstreit is the Executive Director of The Kim Foundation. She received her J.D. from Creighton University in 2005, and her BS in Journalism from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2002. She has been with The Kim Foundation since 2011, and prior to that worked for local non-profits doing development, strategic planning, communications and advancement. She has a passion for helping people and improving lives, and serves on the Executive Committee for Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations, as the 2015 Hill Day State Captain for the state of Nebraska, and as an active member of the Nebraska Suicide Prevention Coalition, the Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, BHECN Advisory Committee, RESPECT Advisory Board, Connections Advisory Board and the Project Propel Planning Group.