Partner Highlight: Kerri Peterson, Region V Systems

Beginning this month, the Public Policy Center will be featuring partner highlights to shine a light on some of the impactful work being done by our project collaborators and partners. Our very first partner highlight is Kerri Peterson of Region V Systems.

Kerri is project director of the SAMHSA Nebraska Disaster Recovery Adults Project, which was awarded in April of 2020 to Region V Systems. The project is serving adults in 23 Nebraska counties with a presidential disaster declaration of individual assistance from the flooding of 2019. These counties include: Butler, Nemaha, Richardson, Saline, and Saunders in Region 5; Antelope, Boone, Boyd, Burt, Colfax, Cuming, Holt, Knox, Madison, Nance, Pierce, Platte, Stanton, and Thurston in Region 4; Buffalo, Custer, Hall, and Howard in Region 3.

In collaboration with the Rural Response Hotline, the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, Region 3 Behavioral Health Services, and Region 4 Behavioral Health System, the following services have been provided to areas serviced by this grant:

  • Access to over 2,100 mental health and substance use outpatient treatment vouchers;
  • Direct crisis counseling to promote resilience and foster community connections;
  • Training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Post-disaster Distress (CBT-PD) for 113 Nebraska clinicians; and
  • Increased ability of community members to recognize the signs of mental illness and substance use and respond with immediate support and assistance through Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training.  

The project has made a total of 9,100 crisis counseling contacts and distributed a total of 66,192 project materials as of June 30, 2021. The original goal of 900 vouchers has been exceeded: 2,129 mental health and substance use vouchers have been distributed to individuals in need of services. These efforts have extended mental health access to Nebraskans by providing trainings to recognize and respond to adults with behavioral health issues, educating the workforce on disaster related mental health issues, and providing treatment vouchers to those within impacted areas.