Hosting a Community Mental Health Night at Your School/District

We are thrilled school districts are offering mental health opportunities to their families.  There is no one right way to do this, so feel free to take our recommendations or do whatever works best for your educational community. Unfortunately, we are a small staff so we do not have the capacity to help districts plan their community mental health nights anymore given the sheer number of requests we receive.  This page serves as our way to help more groups at the same time. We do not assume responsibility for the success of an event, a speaker, or an expo fair. We know you'll have a tremendous evening!

1. Create a planning team including parents, youth, and school personnel
2. Choose a time and date that works best for your educational community (we recommend doing this district-wide to maximize participation)
3. Choose a format (we recommend either one keynote and a couple of breakout sessions or just breakout sessions).
Possible schedule:
5:30-6:00 Dinner
6:00-6:30 Keynote
6:35-7:00 Breakout #1 (2-6 breakouts depending on # of attendees)
7:05-7:30 Breakout #2 (2-6 breakouts depending on # of attendees)
5:30-7:00 Expo Fair
4. Consider offering a meal to families and free childcare to reduce barriers and increase accessibility.
5. Invite speakers.  There are many wonderful options.  We do not have the capacity to be a speaker's bureau, but we have a few suggestions to get you started. (We only update this list annually so email us only in December if you want to be considered for this list during the annual update).
6. Invite organizations to participate in the expo fair.  If you have a community mental health partner providing therapy in your school, they are a must-attend for the fair.  Don't be afraid to invite mental health agencies, because you want families to have options if they need therapeutic options. We extended an opportunity to our networks to be included on this list (if you would like to be added to the list email us only in December for the annual update).
7. Publicize your event within your district, to neighboring districts, and to community partners such as your city leaders, chamber, faith institutions, and any other groups that may want to attend. In your promotions, include basic information such as speaker names, presentation titles, if food and childcare are available, etc. Feel free to add to the free community event calendar on our website!
8. Some districts provide a separate speaker series for their adolescents to attend if they wish.  Consider inviting young people to lead a session or panel on relevant topics such as teen stress, what we wish adults knew, what mental illness can look like for a teen (with parent permission).
Possible Speakers
(Note we only add to this list annually in December, so email us then to be added)

Sonia Reyes, Director of Latino Affairs in Iowa


Speaking topics: Impact and strategies for working with immigrant and refugee youth, Latinx mental health, the mental health impact of being an advocate, and helping survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.


Brian Carico, School Administrator, Parent, AFSP Board of Directors, Suicide Survivor


Speaking topics: Signs of suicide, school involvement, parent support, prevention, and the stigma of mental health


Nicole Skaar, Ph.D., NCSP, Associate Professor at the University of Northern Iowa, Licensed school psychologist,


Speaking topics:  Universal mental health screening - developing and implementing quality systems, Developing and implementing School-Based Mental Health MTSS, Mental health services within Special Education


Lyndsey Fennelly, Entrepreneur & Community Leader (Ames, IA), Speaker & Mental Health Consultant

A story of hope & healing, a message of awareness & acceptance, and helping others, especially young people, battle this illness


Mary Neubauer & Larry Loss

Since their 18-year-old son Sergei tragically took his own life in September 2017, Mary Neubauer and Larry Loss of Clive have become leading advocates for improvement in mental healthcare services in Iowa to provide help for those in need. Mary now serves on the state board overseeing Iowa’s new behavioral health system for children, and the couple speaks with groups across the country about the importance of understanding that we all need our physical and mental health to truly be well. As they share their family’s story, they also provide the real-world perspective about how we can help those around us who may be struggling. They are proud to be #sergeissoldiers, pushing for change in their son’s memory. Learn more about Mary and Larry at

Breanne Ward, CRC, LMHC, ForWard Consulting, LLC

Speaking topics: Sexual Assault 101, Dynamics of Sexual Assault, Vicarious Trauma, Crisis Intervention, Effective Communication Skills, Trauma and Disability, Historical Trauma, Economic Advocacy, & Trauma and Race


Mid-America Mental Health Technology Transfer Center


We employ a number of licensed psychologists and other professionals who have expertise and provide workforce training in how to support the mental and behavioral health of students in schools, communities, and other settings. We would be willing to speak on many topics related to school mental health, including but not limited to foundations of school mental health, building comprehensive school mental health programming, establishing school-community partnerships, family engagement in school mental health and education, addressing challenging behaviors, and addressing the mental health needs of students and educators in the school setting.

Potential Expo Organizations
(Note we only add to this list annually in December, so email us then to be added)

Organization Name                                                                                 Organization Contact Info

Okerberg and Associates                                                                

Please Pass the Love                                                                        

SK Health Services                                                                            

CommUnity Crisis Services and Food Bank                                  

NAMI Greater Des Moines                                                              

Integrative Counseling Solutions                                                   

Community Youth Concepts                                                           

ForWard Consulting, LLC                                                                 

Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity                        

Iowa Mentoring Partnership                                                           

Choices Therapy Services, LLC                                                        

Turning Point Evaluation, INC                                                         

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention                              

Crossroads Behavioral Health Services                                        ;

Lutheran Services in Iowa                                                               ;

Foundation 2 Crisis Services                                                           ,

Employee and Family Resources                                                     

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach                           

Hamilton's Academy of Grief & Loss                                             

ABC'd Therapy & Consulting                                                           

Orchard Place                                                                                    

Tanager Place                                                                                    

Mosaic Family Counseling Center Inc.                                          

Contact Us

PHONE: 515.339.3837

4801 Franklin Ave. 

Des Moines, IA 50310


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