About Us


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.

Meet the Core Development Team

Abhishek Aggarwal (USA/India)

Abhishek is a Ph.D. Student in Health Promotion, Education and Behavior at the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina. His research interest is in exploring the potential of culturally-sensitive, personalized, and engaging AI-driven interactive mobile health (mHealth) technologies in delivering efficacious, affordable, and accessible behavioral/mental health interventions. His current work focuses on testing the potential of interactive gaming technologies in promoting mental health among adolescents, and testing the effectiveness of Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) as a real-time data collection mechanism.

Dr. Tal Dotan Ben-Soussan (Italy)

Tal Dotan Ben-Soussan (PhD) is the director of the Research Institute for Neuroscience, Education, and Didactics, Patrizio Paoletti Foundation. Ben-Soussan leads studies examining the effects of sensorimotor and contemplative training paradigms on neuroplasticity, cognition, and well-being. Her multidisciplinary approach utilizes electrophysiological, neuroanatomical, and molecular tools to examine the underlying mechanisms mediating cognitive and emotional change. Ben-Soussan’s pioneering work on the Quadrato Motor Training has demonstrated that specifically-structured sensorimotor activity can improve neuronal functions, as well as enhance creativity, reflectivity, and spatial cognition. She also examines different models of consciousness, such as the Sphere Model of Consciousness and applies neuroscientific tools to examine the interconnectedness of motion, emotion, and cognition in the workplace, schools, as well as in learning disorders and neurodegenerative states, such as dyslexia and Alzheimer’s disease.

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.

Tucker Chandler (USA)

Tucker Chandler, MSW, works as a Research Associate on the School Behavioral Health Team at the University of South Carolina. In addition to coordinating SMHILE, Tucker serves as the project manager for the Supporting Mental Wellness Through Schools pilot and supports implementation, data collection, and coaching on the Early Supports for Student Success (ESSS) project. At USC, Tucker has served as a University 101 instructor since 2022 and enjoys spending time getting to know students and helping them navigate the transition to college. Her professional interests include implementation science and sustainability.

Dr. Sigrun Danielsdottir (Iceland)

Sigrun Danielsdottir is a psychologist specialising in eating disorders and body image. She currently works for the Icelandic Directorate of Health, and was previously a clinical psychologist in an eating disorder treatment team at the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit of Iceland’s National Hospital. She has also lead and researched body image and eating disorder prevention programmes for adolescent girls in Iceland and conducted studies on weight bias. She lives in Iceland.

Dr. Dennis J. Edwards (Jamaica)

Dennis Edwards is the former Head of the Psychology Department at the University of the West Indies, (UWI) Mona, Jamaica, where he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in neuropsychology, cognitive, physiological and abnormal psychology/psychopathology as well as train graduate students in psychological assessment and clinical practice. In addition, he was also Head of the Disaster Resilience and Research Initiative in the Social Sciences Faculty as well as external clinical psychology examiner for the Doctor of Medicine Consultants Psychiatry Program in the University Hospital. He has lectured counselling and neuropsychology at the Northern Caribbean University.

Dr. Lenka Felcmanová (Czech Republic)

Lenka Felcmanova is Head of Czech Expert Society for Inclusive Education and assistant professor at Department of Special Education, Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic). She is focused on support of education of student with learning disabilities, inclusive education, behaviour management, promotion of wellbeing and trauma informed approach at schools. She formerly worked at the Department of Special Education of Czech Ministry of Education. She is active in professional development of professionals in education and cooperated on development of curriculum for elementary education in the Czech Republic. In CESIE she is focused on localisation of evidence based and evidence informed approaches in support of children with complex needs related to adverse childhood experiences. She is head of Expert group of national initiative Partnership for Education 2030+ focused on promotion of wellbeing at schools.

Ciaran Fox (New Zealand)

Ciarán has a background in youth health, community development and the arts going back to 1993. Ciaran joined the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand in 2008. He specialises in the areas of positive mental health, wellbeing, social marketing and mental health promotion strategy. He is a member of the global working group on mental health promotion for the International Union for Health Promotion and Education and has served on the Technical Advisory Group for the new Mental Health & Wellbeing Commission on population wellbeing indicators. Following the Canterbury earthquakes in 2011 he helped develop All Right? the MHF’s award-winning partnership with Canterbury DHB’s Community & Public Health, focused on population wellbeing in the post-disaster recovery of Canterbury including the subsequent Kaikoura/Hurunui earthquake. In 2020 the All Right? team created Getting Through Together to support the mental wellbeing of Aotearoa as it adapts through the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Gavin Hazel (Australia)

Dr. Gavin Hazel is an experienced education and capability development professional, specialising in the areas of child and youth mental health, wellbeing, and resilience. He is well regarded for his in depth knowledge and understanding of learning and development, mental health promotion, knowledge translation, resource development, and research.

Gavin has worked as a lecturer in teacher education, a research academic, a senior research scientist and a mental health projects manager. He holds a conjoint appointment with the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle.

Dr. Sharon A. Hoover (USA)

Sharon A. Hoover, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and 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 national efforts to support states, districts and schools in the adoption of national performance standards 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 resilient schools has been a major emphasis of Dr. Hoover’s research, education and clinical work. She has worked with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) 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 and internationally. In 2020, Dr. Hoover was awarded a SAMHSA grant to develop the NCTSN Center for Safe Supportive Schools (www.ncs3.org), aimed at integrating trauma-informed policies and practices in school mental health systems, with a specific focus on social justice and supporting youth of color, newcomer youth, and other marginalized students and families. Since the onset of COVID-19, Dr. Hoover has worked with education and mental health leaders across the United States as they support educators, students and their families with social, emotional and academic needs amidst the global pandemic. 

Anna Kubíčková (Czech Republic)

Anna Kubíčková coordinates a Czech Society for Inclusive Education (ČOSIV) project that pilots PBIS in three elementary schools in the Czech Republic. She also cooperates with the Wellbeing in Education Workgroup and related initiatives. She operates at the Faculty of Education at Charles University in Prague. There she studies a doctoral program in Special Education, concentrating on child behaviour, wellbeing, and mental health support in education. In 2019, she cooperated with the Midwest PBIS Network during her two-month academic research stay in Chicago (US). Since 2020, Anna, together with the ČOSIV team, has been cooperating with experts on PBIS in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Lithuania, and other countries, in order to establish a tiered support system in mainstream Czech education.

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. Rodrigo A Lima (Spain)

Rodrigo A Lima, Ph.D. is a researcher at Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu in Spain. He is also a member of the Centre for Biomedical Network Research on Mental Health (CIBERSAM), which is a prestigious research centre specialised in mental health in Spain. The main focus of Rodrigo’s recent research is on the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental problems in children and adolescents. Rodrigo has a particular interest in the importance of a physically active lifestyle in the promotion of mental health in youth. His background is in physical education, and he obtained a PhD in Health Sciences at the University of Southern Denmark. Rodrigo has participated in many international projects, especially in school-based interventions and cohorts focusing on various health outcomes in the youth population. 

Currently, Rodrigo is the director of the IMPROVA project (e-Intervention Enhancing Mental Health in Adolescents Project), an EU-funded project (European Commission: no. 101080934) that will co-design, pilot, evaluate, and facilitate the upscaling of a modular eHealth intervention platform that aims to promote mental health and wellbeing, early detect mental health problems and prevent common mental problems in adolescents in France, Germany, Romania and Spain.  

Dr. Peter Paulus (Germany)

Peter Paulus, PhD, Dipl.-Psych. is Guest Professor and Head of the Center for Applied Sciences of Health (CASH) at Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany. Focus of his work is educational psychology, family psychology, health psychology, -education, -counselling and -promotion. He is head of research of several nationwide projects relating to school health promotion e.g. “MindMatters – Promotion of Mental Health and Education in Primary and Secondary Schools”. He is the German representative in the “Schools for Health in Europe (SHE)” network, is member of the steering committee of “European Network Education and Training in Occupational Safety and Health” (ENTOSH)  and also member of the core group of the Pool of Experts of the “UNESCO Chair Global Health & Education” (Paris) and last but not lest.member of SMHILE (“School Mental Health International Leadership Exchange”) core development team. 

Dr. Caterina Pesce (Italy)

Caterina Pesce has a graduation in Physical Education, a degree in Movement and Sport Sciences, a master of Psychology (Rome) and a PhD in Philosophy (Berlin). She is professor at the University of Rome “Foro Italico”. Her main research foci are in the field of physical activity and cognition (she has pioneered), motor competence and enriched physical education for holistic child development. She has over 100 peer reviewed publications and is author, co-author or editor of several international and national books on physical activity-cognition and physical activity for educational achievement. She has been invited as a speaker at several International and national conferences and symposia, with keynotes in Europe, America and Asia. In her long editorial experience, she actually is associate editor for Mental Health and Physical Activity. She has designed, validated and contributed to scale up a Whole School, Whole Child, Whole Community (WSCC) Corporate Social Responsibility initiative of quality physical activity (“Joy of Moving”) nationally (with > 30,000 classrooms and 700,000 children involved in Italy) and internationally (in Africa, America, Australia and Europe).

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)

Dr. Robert Porzak is educational psychologist, the headmaster of Experimental Psychology Lab at the Faculty of Human Science, University of Economics and Innovation (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, analysed epidemiology and correlates of healthy and addictive behaviour, 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. From 2019 member of SMHILE Core Development Team and from 2022 Board of Directors of Tapestry Intergenerational Education Foundation. 

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. Mark Weist (USA, SMHILE Co-Chair)

Mark D. Weist received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from VirginiaTech in 1991 after completing his internship at Duke University Medical Center, and is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina (USC). In 1995, with colleagues from the University of Maryland, he established the National Center for School Mental Health, now in its 27th year of supporting this field (see www.schoolmentalhealth.org). He is also a partner on the National Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (see www.pbis.org). He has edited or developed 16 books and has published and presented widely in areas of mental health-education system partnerships, school behavioral health (SBH), trauma, violence and youth, evidence-based practice, cognitive behavioral therapy, supporting military families, and advancing policies that support children and youth at local, state, regional, national, and international levels of scale. With colleagues, he currently leads the Southeastern School Behavioral Health Community (see www.schoolbehavioralhealth.org), and is leading or co-leading a number of federally funded studies on strategies to improve SBH effectiveness, impact and scaling up. Since 2013, Mark has co-chaired the School Mental Health International Leadership Exchange with Kathy Short (see www.smhile.org), and has helped to lead international meetings in London, UK (2014), Columbia, SC (2015), Sweden (2018), Baltimore/Washington (2019) and New Zealand (2022, virtual).

Dr. İlhan Yalçın (Turkey)

İlhan Yalçın, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Psychological Counseling and Guidance, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Ankara University, Turkey. His focus on student well-being, positive youth development, professional ethics, and family relationships. He served as vice dean of Faculty of Educational Sciences (2015-2020). Currently, he is the director of Graduate School of Educational Sciences. He served as editorial board member of several academic journals in the field of counseling and education. He was a visiting researcher at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Counseling and Educational Development, USA in 2007-2008. He is engaged in some research projects conducted in the schools. For example, he was an expert in a project aiming at developing an orientation program for high school students. He is currently working with colleagues on the student well-being, social and emotional development, and school engagement.