Nebraska School Mental Health Conference

June 1–2, 2022

Embassy Suites La Vista Conference Center
12520 Westport Parkway, La Vista, NE 68128

  • $50 per person
  • 7.5 CEUs offered

Registration is now closed.

The Nebraska School Mental Health Initiative was launched to promote strong mental health services in our schools; to provide resources and training to increase access; and to promote early intervention and wrap around services for youth and families.

Members of the steering committee work together to improve our schools’ social and emotional climate by providing a networking platform for community members to collaborate and create change.

The Nebraska School Mental Health Initiative was originated by the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN), which concluded their three-year focus in 2017 with the School Mental Health Summit. 

The initiative is being led by steering committee partners with Educational Service Unit #3 and The Kim Foundation.

Conference Agenda

Wednesday, June 1

Thursday, June 2

  • 8:00–8:45 a.m.   Registration
  • 8:45–9:00 a.m.   Welcome
  • 9:00–10:00 a.m.   Keynote: Michael Bonner, Now What?! Eliminating the Great Resignation Through Innovation
  • 10:00–10:10 a.m.   Break
  • 10:10–10:55 a.m.   Breakout 1
  • 10:55–11:05 a.m.   Break
  • 11:05–11:50 a.m.   Breakout 2
  • 11:50–12:30 p.m.   Box Lunch
  • 12:30–1:15 p.m.   Breakout 3
  • 1:15–1:25 p.m.   Break
  • 1:25–2:10 p.m.   Breakout 4
  • 2:10–2:20 p.m.   Break
  • 2:20–3:20 p.m.   Keynote: Samantha Reaves, Good company: Highlights of and strategies for school mental health quality improvement from the frontline
  • 3:20–3:30 p.m.   Day 1 Closing
  • 3:45–5:30 p.m.   Reception & Awards — Congressman Bacon to welcome attendees
  • 8:45–9:00 a.m.   Housekeeping & Day 2 reminders
  • 9:00–9:45 a.m.   Keynote: Ryan Sallans, Building Empathy to Promote Resiliency
  • 9:45–9:55 a.m.   Break
  • 9:55–10:40 a.m.   Breakout 5
  • 10:40–10:50 a.m.   Break
  • 10:50–11:30 a.m.   Keynote: Emma Benoit, Surviving My Suicide Attempt
  • 11:30–12:00 p.m.   Youth Panel
  • 12:00–12:15 p.m.   Closing

2022 Keynote Speakers

Stay tuned for more information to come on our 2nd Annual Nebraska Youth Panel and breakout sessions!

Michael Bonner

As seen on The Ellen Show, NBC Nightly News, and Time for Kids, Michael Bonner is an energizing voice not only in education, but for his generation. Michael has presented to thousands of people at educational conferences and corporate events across the world to share his lessons learned from teaching. His passion for creating dynamic learning environments have led to creating partnerships with Discovery Education, Lego Education, 3M, People Magazine, and more!

Mr. Bonner’s enthusiastic seminars challenge listeners to reflect, strategize, and execute in order to increase their efficiency in the workplace and personal areas. He is consistently seen as a visionary leader who strives to create a positive mindset among his listeners. Individuals leave Mr. Bonner’s presence ready to make an impact that affects eternity.

As we enter into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, he understands 21st Century skills must be introduced and modeled in order for everyone to grow both socially, emotionally, academically, and psychologically. He empowers his audiences to build genuine relationships with people because “You can’t demand a withdrawal from someone you have never invested in.” Due to his educational approach, people leave more hopeful, challenged, and prepared to be world changing citizens.

Michael is the CEO of Bonnerville where his organization works to provide self-care experiences for educators around the world. Mr. Bonner lives in Atlanta where he is the 4th grade social studies teacher and 6th grade reading teacher at the famed Ron Clark Academy!

You can learn more about Michael Bonner at and follow him on all social media platforms at @michaelbonner_.

Emma Benoit

Emma Benoit became extremely passionate about suicide prevention after surviving a suicide attempt in 2017, the summer before her senior year in high school. At the time, she was a popular varsity cheerleader with a supportive family and lots of friends, but on the inside, she was filled with depression and anxiety, and had never told a soul about it. Her attempt resulted in a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed but helped her find faith and purpose; and propelled her on a mission to use her painful experience and miraculous recovery to help others.

A few months after her attempt, Emma started the website and a blog to share her story and recovery journey in an effort to help other teens who are struggling. In early 2018, Emma began working on a documentary film called My Ascension, which is scheduled for release in 2021, that chronicles her recovery journey and advocacy work, while addressing the youth suicide epidemic.

Emma serves as an Ambassador for LivingWorks, the world’s leader in suicide prevention training and in December of 2020, Emma was a featured guest on Jada Pinkett Smith’s hit show “Red Table Talk”; and she has also been featured on numerous other news programs and podcasts.

Emma is an uplifting speaker who has shared her powerful story and message with thousands of people at in person and virtual conferences and events including: LivingWorks and California Department of Education Youth Summit, National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health Conference, LSU School of Social Work Conference, Arkansas Youth Mental Health Conference, Hope Rising Suicide Prevention Summit and the Hope Squad National Conference.

Emma is a 2018 graduate of Dutchtown High School, whose strength and motivation are rooted in her strong faith and supportive family.

Ryan Sallans, MA

Ryan Sallans, MA is an inspirational transgender speaker and author who specializes in inclusion, diversity, and healthcare. Over the past 20 years, Ryan has worked in the fields of eating disorder recovery, sexual orientation, and gender identity development. His work focuses on building inclusive environments and providing trauma-informed care for students, patients, employees and clients. His growing body of texts and teachings assist corporations, healthcare institutions, federal agencies, universities, and communities.

Since his own transition from female to male, which began in May of 2005 in Lincoln, Nebraska, Ryan’s story and work has reached people worldwide through his websites, books, articles, speaking engagements, and interviews. He’s appeared on radio, podcasts, magazines, newspapers, and mainstream television including the 2006 documentary Gender Rebel and two appearances on Larry King Live.

From 2008 to 2020, Ryan also served as a consultant, Lead Author and Subject Matter Expert for an extensive range of e-learning courses used around the nation to train healthcare professionals and staff seeking continuing education around serving the LGBTQ community. These courses are now part of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Healthcare Equality Index (HEI).

His academic publications include several personal narratives for peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Ethics (2020), Journal of Ethics (2016), Journal of Ethics in Mental Health (2015), and Contemporary Sexuality (2012). 

Ryan is currently working on his third book, Finding Me: A Journey to Self-Discovery. His other books include Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love and Life (Scout Publishing, 2012) and Transforming Manhood: A trans man’s quest to build bridges and knock down walls (Scout Publishing, 2019).

For his academic training, Ryan graduated Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he received a Bachelor of Arts in cultural anthropology and English, a Master of Arts in English (specialized in creative writing), and a Master of Arts in educational psychology (specialized in human health behavior). 

Learn more about Ryan’s life and work by visiting his website at: RyanSallans.Com.

Samantha Reaves, PhD

Dr. Reaves works to integrate her research and clinical experiences to improve outcomes for children. Her research interests lie at the intersection of mental health and education and she often investigates how school or family factors influence student outcomes in underserved communities. As a clinical-community psychologist, she believes great prevention work can be done and realizes the importance of strengthening the systems children are nested in to promote wellbeing so she is committed to supporting schools, at multiple levels, to improve policies and procedures around student socioemotional functioning. In her work at the NCSMH she primarily supports the Partnering for Student Wellness project, the SOR parenting program evaluation, the National Quality Initiative, and the Mental Health Technology Transfer Center regional projects.

NSMHC Sponsors

We’d like to give a special thanks to all of our 2022 sponsors!

project harmony child advocacy center logo
region 6 logo
chi health logo

A special thank you to BHECN and DHHS for their generous contributions to the Nebraska School Mental Health Conference.

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