About Us

Meet the Core Development Team

Dr. Margaret Barry (IRELAND)

Margaret M. Barry, Ph.D. is Professor of Health Promotion and Public Health and Head of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion Research at the National University of Ireland Galway. Professor Barry has published widely in the field of mental health promotion and works closely with policymakers and practitioners on the development, implementation and evaluation of mental health promotion interventions and policies at national and international level. Elected as Global Vice President for Capacity Building, Education and Training by the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (2007-2010), she has served as board member of a number of international and European advisory groups, research councils and scientific committees. Professor Barry has acted as expert adviser on mental health promotion policy and research development in a number of countries globally and was appointed in 2013 to the European Commission Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health. She was a Visiting Fellow at the Victorian Health Foundation, Australia in 2007 and Visiting Research Fellow at Curtin University, Perth Australia in 2013. She is co-author of the international text Implementing Mental Health Promotion (Barry and Jenkins, 2007) published by Elsevier.

Dr. Eric Bruns (USA)

Eric J. Bruns, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Bruns’ research and other professional activities focus on public child-serving systems, and how to maximize their positive effects on youth with behavioral health needs and their families. He is internationally known for his research and development work on integrated behavioral health care for youth with complex mental health needs via the wraparound process and serves as Director of the National Wraparound Initiative (www.pdx.edu/nwi). He also conducts research on school mental health services and is Associate Director of the University of Washington’s School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center (https://education.uw.edu/smart). Dr. Bruns is one of the leaders of the National Technical Assistance Network for Children’s Behavioral Health, which is the Unites States’ center of support for implementing effective, community-based services for youth. He has served as Principal Investigator for over 10 federally funded studies of community- and school-based mental health services and authored over 70 refereed journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Sharon A. Hoover (USA)

Sharon A. Hoover, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Co-Director of the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH, www.schoolmentalhealth.org). She currently leads NCSMH efforts to support states, districts and schools in the adoption of national performance standards for quality and sustainability of comprehensive school mental health systems (www.theSHAPEsystem.com). Dr. Hoover has led and collaborated on multiple federal and state grants, with a commitment to the study and implementation of quality children’s mental health services.

Creating safe, supportive and trauma-responsive schools has been a major emphasis of Dr. Hoover’s research, education and clinical work. Since 2004, she has worked with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Treatment Services Adaptation Center for Resiliency, Hope and Wellness in Schools, to train school district and school leaders, educators and support staff in multi-tiered systems of support for psychological trauma. She has trained school and community behavioral health staff and educators in districts across the United States, as well as internationally, including consultation on building safe and supportive school mental health systems in Canada, China, Northern Ireland, South Korea, and Ukraine. As an advisor to the World Health Organization, Dr. Hoover has provided consultation and technical assistance on comprehensive school mental health in several countries, including developing and implementing a student mental health curriculum for teachers throughout the Middle East and developing and evaluating a school-based intervention to support immigrant and refugee youth in Canada and the United States. Dr. Hoover served as a Resource Specialist for the National Resource Center on Youth Violence Prevention and Mental Health Promotion, providing technical assistance and resource development for Safe Schools/Healthy Students grantees across the United States. In addition, she serves as a national consultant to the National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, providing support to Promoting Student Resilience grantees in urban school districts impacted by community violence.

Dr. Torill Larsen (NORWAY)

Torill Larsen received her Ph.D from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen in 2005, focusing on implementation of social emotional learning in schools and schools leadership. As an Associate Professor at the Department for Health Promotion and Development at the University of Bergen, she teaches graduate courses in health promotion, implementation, leadership, school interventions, and program evaluation. Her research over the past ten years has been on implementation of health promotion programs among adolescents. She is deputy head of the research group; Social Influence Processes in Adolescent health (SIPA), which is an interdisciplinary research group that over the past twenty years has developed competence in applying, and developing theories and methods of social and developmental psychology in the area of adolescent health. The group is playing a major role in several large-scale national and international studies in this research area. Larsen recently completed a pilot study on the implementation of a health promoting program building on the tenets of positive youth development theory. She is now leading an effectiveness study of the same program in upper secondary schools in Norway. She has also been part of an EU funded study on Physical activity; Promoting adolescent health through an intervention aimed at improving the quality of their participation in Physical Activity (PAPA). In this work (and over the course of her career), she seeks to bridge theoretical and practical knowledge within the area of health promoting and implementation.

Dr. Heather McDaniel (USA)

Heather is a doctoral student in the School Psychology program at the University of South Carolina. Heather’s primary research interests are in the areas of implementation science and family involvement in the context of school mental health. After earning her bachelors in Psychology from Ohio University in 2010, she joined the University of South Carolina School Mental Health team as a research specialist. With the team, Heather has assisted with federally funded research as well as served as the Editorial Associate for the journal Advances in School Mental Health Promotion.

Dr. Peter Paulus (GERMANY)

As a Professor of Psychology, he is lecturing educational psychology in BA Courses, school health promotion and education in MA-courses in initial teacher training students. He is head of the Institute of Psychology and also head of the Centre for Applied Sciences of Health (CASH). His special interests are school mental health promotion and education. He has developed a new concept, the “good healthy school”, which links school health promotion and education in a systematic and systemic way. He is currently running several nationwide school programs. One is the German adaptation of the famous Australian program “MindMatters”, a resource for mental health promotion for Secondary Schools. With his team he has also developed a new program related to MindMatters for primary school mental health promotion. As the school system is changing in Germany into a system of whole-day schools (traditionally schools finish at noon), Peter has created a project which focuses on the integration of mental health promotion into development of whole day schools in Germany. This program is funded by the Federal Ministry of Health and produce a folder with models of good practice, success stories and guidelines on how to develop good schools with mental health. On the European level, he is also a member of the planning committee of the “Schools for Health” (SHE) network which consists of 43 country networks with national representatives as national co-ordinators. He works closely with DG SANCO (Directorate General Health and Consumers) to support mental health promotion in and with educational settings.

Dr. Solveig (Sue) Petersen (SWEDEN)

Solveig (Sue) Petersen holds a PhD in Pediatrics and an Associate Professorship in Epidemiology and Public Health. She works for the national Public Health Agency of Sweden. Here, her focus is on knowledge development, dissemination and support in the field of school-based child mental health promotion and in mental ill-health prevention in schools. She is also an Associate Professor at the department of Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, Sweden, and an Honorary Associate Professor at Deakin University, Australia. As such, she has for the past decade led research focusing on mental health in children, with a particular interest in schools as a driver of the development of children’s mental health.

Dr. Robert Porzak (POLAND)

Robert Porzak, Ph.D. is educational psychologist, the head of Experimental Psychology Lab at the Faculty of Human Science, Economics and Innovation University (WSEI) in Lublin, Poland. He advised the Chancellery of the President of Republic of Poland in creating and implementing the Addiction-Free Universities Network program in Poland, he evaluated and assisted the improvement of institutional forms of helping youth at risk of social exclusion in Poland. Co-author and leader of projects focused on school prevention, school mental health principles implementation, supporting learning, teaching and positive behaviour such as: Profilaktycy.pl (Ministry of Education) – the evaluation of system of prevention and school mental health in Poland with recommendations for improvement, Career Tree (Erasmus+) – online adaptive tests and advisory tool supporting educational and vocational career planning in the transition period, MATE (Erasmus+) – online tests and trainings supporting the educational success of children aged 10-13. Publishes books and articles presenting research and solutions for diagnosing and supporting healthy development in schools. Co-founder and member of the board in the “You Have a Chance” Foundation focused on preventing addictions in schools and promotion of school mental health.

Dr. Louise Rowling (AUSTRALIA)

Louise Rowling is an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of Sydney. She was a Chief Investigator for the development phase of MindMatters, Australia’s national dissemination of school mental health promotion. In its second phase she chaired the Evaluation Committee, which had oversight of four evaluation studies.
MindMatters is in its 12th year of dissemination and now incorporates prevention and early intervention. Ten years of implementation have recently been documented entitled “MindMatters. Implementing Mental Health Promotion in Secondary Schools in Australia” in Interventions and Policies to Enhance Wellbeing, Huppert, FA & Cooper CL. “Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide” Vol. VI. Wiley Blackwell. Louise’s other publications include Grief in School Communities, Mental Health Promotion and Young People: Concepts and Practice and a chapter Intersectoral Approaches to Mental Health Promotion in the WHO publication Promoting Mental Health. She recently co-authored with Oddrun Samdal at text entitled “The Implementation of Health Promoting Schools”.
As part of a World University Project (WUN) she is currently working with colleagues on the development of mental wellbeing literacy for adolescents in school settings.

Dr. Kathy Short (CANADA, SMHILE Co-Chair)

Dr. Kathy Short is a Clinical Child Psychologist (University of British Columbia, 1995) with research and practice interests that focus on school mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention services.  She is the Executive Director for School Mental Health Ontario, a provincial team that helps Ontario school boards to support student mental health using evidence-based approaches.  She was a member of the Mental Health and Addictions Leadership Advisory Council for the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (2015-2017) and chaired the Mental Health Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention Work Group for the Council.  Dr. Short also served on the Ontario Education Research Panel (2009-2012) and the Student Well-Being Advisory Committee (2016-2018) for the Ministry of Education.  In addition to provincial leadership in school mental health, Dr. Short is engaged in several national and international projects in this area.  For example, she led the Knowledge Translation and Exchange Team for the School-Based Mental Health and Substance Abuse Consortium (Mental Health Commission of Canada), and is currently working with several partners to create a cross-provincial knowledge hub in school mental health.  

Dr. Katherine Weare (UK)

Katherine Weare is among other things Emeritus Professor at the University of Southampton, Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Exeter and a freelance consultant. She is known internationally for her work on mental health and well-being and social and emotional learning, and has published widely in the field, both reviewing the evidence base and developing new approaches. She was a key player in the UK’s SEAL programme. She is now developing and evaluating cutting edge work on mindfulness, carrying out reviews of the evidence, evaluating programmes, and advising mindfulness programmes, and agencies such as the EU, WHO and UK government on ways forward. She can be contacted at skw@soton.ac.uk

Dr. Mark Weist (USA, SMHILE Co-Chair)

Mark D. Weist is a professor at the University of South Carolina and for more than 20 years has focused on the improvement and expansion of school mental health (SMH) programs, with school and community agencies collaborating to provide effective promotion and intervention. He founded the Center for School Mental Health in 1995, with this center continuing to help lead SMH in the U.S. He has led federally funded research on quality assessment, and on achievable evidence-based strategies in SMH, including three randomized trials.

Bryan Young (CANADA)

Bryan Young is a student and social activist from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Winnipeg and is actively involved on campus as an outspoken advocate for student mental health and wellness. Bryan’s work as an advocate began soon after he was first diagnosed with mental illness at the age of fourteen. After personally experiencing the gaps in the mental health care system in his community, Bryan began speaking out about the challenges of accessing support as a young person. Bryan is also well known for his advocacy work within educational settings. He has delivered talks to educators and school professionals, speaking out about his experience as a young person who struggled in silence due to a lack of mental health literacy education in his community. His passion lies in mental health literacy implementation and curriculum development; with the hope of promoting learning environments conducive to positive mental health for students across Canada. For the last four years, much of Bryan’s work has been with Jack.org; including involvement in all three major programs and, most recently, has served as a member of their youth advisory board for two terms. When he is not busy with school or his advocacy work, Bryan enjoys drinking coffee while cozying up with his favourite books!


The mission of SMHILE is to promote effective school mental health internationally by bringing together leaders from regions and countries across the world to share knowledge; co-create dissemination and leadership strategies; and signal best research, policy, and practice directions for the field. SMHILE will offer a credible and authoritative international resource on topics related to school mental health leadership, including a focus on workforce development; interdisciplinary and cross-system collaboration; family, student and stakeholder involvement; implementation of evidence-based practices; and quality assurance.


SMHILE will promote mental health and well-being among students across the world by providing school mental health professionals, advocates, and scholars the knowledge, resources, and connections they need to be effective local, regional and/or national leaders in school mental health.


SMHILE is committed to:

* Sharing knowledge and co-creating resources

* Focused, goal-directed activities

* Mobilizing networks and activities

* Promoting research-informed strategies and practices

* Advancing effective implementation approaches



A central focus of SMHILE is to develop the capacity of individuals who wish to lead local, regional and/or national efforts to develop and sustain effective school mental health capacity building and implementation efforts. In the short-term, SMHILE will establish the foundations for a dynamic, sustainable organization of international leaders in school mental health that can promote sharing of knowledge, effective advocacy, and collaboration on research and development. This includes determining structures, processes, membership, communication strategies, and a shared action agenda.


Using a variety of knowledge exchange platforms, SMHILE aims to become a global resource for leadership and implementation in school mental health.


SMHILE has its roots in the foundational work of the International Alliance for Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Schools (Intercamhs). This organization was launched in 2003 as a network designed to foster international exchange on topics related to school mental health promotion. Intercamhs led a number of important initiatives, hosted events, and produced reports. These efforts are summarized on the Intercamhs website:


In fall 2013, a group of Intercamhs members suggested that a new entity, with a core focus on leadership and implementation in school mental health , could add value to the field. A core team was assembled to further develop this idea. SMHILE is the result of these efforts.