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 lack of an organized system to maximize on 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, 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 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.

This is a brief video to bring all potential participants up-to-speed in the quickest fashion. Watch this link BEFORE you commit to joining the COP:​

Currently, there are four practice groups within the ISMHA, as well as their working goals.  If you are able to join us, we will provide you with far more information within our collaborative workspaces:



Facilitators: Maria Lantz & Lynn O'Brien

Family Engagement

Facilitators: Stephanie McFarland & Casey McMurray


Facilitators: Nicole Skaar & Emilie Souhrada

Evidence-Based Practice

Facilitators: Dana Miller, Carol Sensor & TBD

Equity Director

Sonia Reyes-Snyder

Each group has different digital meeting dates/times planned.  If you are interested, please complete the following brief link for us to gather your contact information and practice group request.  We will then connect you with your respective practice group leaders.