Iowa School Mental Health Alliance

Currently, Iowa has a very ad hoc approach to school mental health with a variety of agencies and entities doing amazing work but lacks an organized system to maximize best practice as well as communication and understanding. The intention of this opportunity is to bring together a large number of diverse stakeholders, beyond just decision-makers, to have a better understanding of what school mental health in Iowa looks like, what is currently being done, assess target goal areas, develop a sustainable statewide action plan, and to create an ongoing community of practice to progress the school mental health work. 

On June 11th & 12th in 2019, approximately 85 persons from across the state, representing state agencies(Dept of Ed Iowa Department of Education, IDPH, all AEAs Iowa's Area Education Agencies, ISEA ISEA, ISCA, IASP Iowa School Psychologists, ISSW, Orchard PlaceTanager Place, CommUnity, Iowa Office of Latino Affairs, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Buena Vista University, MHTTC, Boys Town, EFR, United Way, Mid Iowa Health Foundation, Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, many school representatives from superintendents to teachers to school counselors, youth, and every other group we’ve forgotten, convened with laser action focus to change the landscape of school mental health across Iowa. 


We brought in national experts Drs. Mark Weist, Kelly Perales, and Nancy Lever to teach us and set the foundation. We divided into four workgroups (communication, family engagement, evidence-based practice, and legislation), and we started our strategic plan to DO BETTER FOR OUR YOUTH, FAMILIES, SCHOOLS, and COMMUNITIES. This is not easy work, it cannot be done alone, but it is absolutely necessary to improve the youth mental health epidemic in our state. 


There has never been an initiative to the depth and capacity of this to take us to a far better place than we are in currently. We have only begun this work, and we recognize we need many, many more voices at the table.

Practice groups




Family Engagement



Facilitators: Nicki Skaar & Emilie Souhrada

Evidence-Based Practices


Administrator System & Resource Development (new practice group)

Facilitators: Vic Vanderpool, Jadie Boens, Kim Bodholdt, & Brian Carico

ISMHA Director

Carlos Rodriguez Rosa