May 2003

Newsletter – May 2003

Welcome to the first e-newsletter of INTERCAMHS. We welcome your feedback on the newsletter. We welcome your feedback on the newsletter. Ideas should be emailed to [email protected]The Alliance currently has over 140 members from 18 countries.


We have been working over the last few months reviewing the proposed operating code for the International Alliance for Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Schools. You will note firstly that there have been some shifts in names. The acronym INTERCAMHS was decided upon to highlight the international orientation in the purposes for the alliance. An on-going challenge in this has been and will continue to be, the ‘language’ we use. This is the first purpose of INTERCAMHS to develop and adopt a common language of terms related to mental health and schools. A second change has been a streamlining of the organisational structure, replacing the proposed steering committee and advisory board structure with one Board. This will consist of at least 15 people – including the Board Officers, the President, Vice President and Secretary. No more than 3 people from any one country can serve on the Board at the same time. The inaugural Board Officers are myself as President (Australia), Jean Pierre Valla (Canada) and Dora Guorun Guomundsdottir (Iceland). Mark Weist (USA) will act as Board Liaison Officer.

An exciting development has been an invitation last month to INTERCAMHS to attend a briefing by World Federation for Mental Health organised by the International Union of Health Promotion and Education in Rockville, Maryland. Mark Weist represented the Alliance. His report in this newsletter identifies the great potential INTERCAMHS now has to put into practice the vision Mark has fostered for improving the mental health of young people globally. I am delighted that an outcome of this meeting is an increase in opportunities for us to meet in different parts of the world over the next 18 months. First please seriously consider joining us on 22nd October, 2003 in Portland, Oregon for the first official meeting of INTERCAMHS, being held in conjunction with the 8th National Conference on Advancing Mental Health in Schools (see Second start saving your cents, pence and pesos and all the other currencies we use to come and visit us in Melbourne, Australia for Health 2004 (April), the International Union of Health Promotion and Education international conference where INTERCAMHS will have a special session (more details of the conference are below). Lastly we can meet in September 2004 at the 3rd World Conference on Mental Health Promotion in Auckland, New Zealand, where INTERCAMHS has been also invited to submit a series of presentations.

In the next few months we will be developing a website. It is envisaged that this will be a primary vehicle for members to share information and access the breadth of material available from our constituents.

I look forward to meeting with you in October,

Louise Rowling, Inaugural President


On April 28 and 29, 2003, INTERCAMHS was invited to participate in an international meeting to promote collaboration in the development of a global agenda for mental health promotion in Washington, DC. The meeting was organized by the World Federation for Mental Health, the Clifford Beers Foundation, and the Carter Center, with support from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The meeting followed two world conferences on mental health promotion held in Atlanta in 2000, and in London in 2002, in preparation for the next meeting to be held in New Zealand in 2004 (September). The purpose of the meeting was to “strengthen ties and expand collaborative actions among organizations worldwide in order to establish better conditions to develop, disseminate, and implement evidence-based prevention and promotion in mental health worldwide.”

INTERCAMHS was one of 16 organizations participating in the meeting. Other organizations were the World Bank; the Carter Center; the Society for Prevention Research; the Pan American Health Organization; the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the World Federation for Mental Health; the Clifford Beers Foundation; the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand; the Finland Ministry of Social Affairs and Health; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE); the World Psychiatric Association; the National Institute of Mental Health; the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; and the VicHealth Promotion Foundation. Each of the groups presented on their goals and activities related to mental health promotion, there was clarification of conceptual frameworks and language, and strategies were developed for collaborative research, knowledge exchange, advocacy, and training.

Importantly, INTERCAMHS was invited to play a leading role in the development of a school mental health stream for the Third World Mental Health Promotion Conference in New Zealand in September, 2004. We hope that this stream will build on and connect to a stream of presentations at the IUHPE meeting in Melbourne in April, 2004.


As presented in earlier emails, the first full meeting of INTERCAMHS will be held on October 22, 2003 in Portland, Oregon, at the Hilton Portland Hotel, in conjunction with the Center for School Mental Health Assistance’s 8th Annual Conference on Advancing School-Based Mental Health, October 23-25 (see

The tentative agenda includes:

  • 9am – 4pm: Sharing of experiences, research, and lessons learned; discussion of ideas for communication and collaboration
  • 4:30 – 7pm: Advisory Board and Business meeting
  • 7:30 – 9:30pm: Reception
  • Annette Johnson has agreed to help coordinate the program. We are in need of volunteers for the program committee. If you are interested please contact Annette at [email protected]

If you are interested in the CSMHA conference, please contact Sylvia Huntley at [email protected]


INTERCAMHS’ operating code (to be reviewed by all at the 10/22 meeting) indicates that its Advisory Board will include at least 15 people, with no more than three members per country. Officers who serve on the board ex officio are Louise Rowling, President (Australia); Jean Pierre-Valla, Vice President (Canada), and Dora Guorun Guomundsdottir (Iceland). Board members include: Chris Bale (UK), Mary Byrne (Ireland), Pamela Cantor (US), Peter Paulus (Germany), Cheryl Vince Whitman (US), Katherine Weare (UK), and Mark Weist (US). At present, Mark Weist is serving as Board Liaison Officer.

Individuals interested in participating on the Board should contact Mark at [email protected]


In Australia, the MindMatters program was developed as a whole-school approach to mental health promotion in secondary schools. This program provides schools with the guidelines and tools to analyze and improve the school’s mental health promotion structures, policies and activities. Educational materials for students, staff and community members are provided on various topics such as developing community partnerships, dealing with bullying and harassment, and coping with loss and grief. The program was piloted in twenty four Australian secondary schools and has produced some encouraging preliminary data, including:

  • · The program’s structure and curriculum have been well received by schools;
  • · Teachers trained in MM procedures reported confidence implementing them;
  • · Increased school-community partnerships were documented;
  • · Students reported that they were more willing to seek counselling services; and
  • · Positive changes have occurred such as improved student learning, staff attitudes, and school policies.
  • Recently, researchers from the CSMHA (Mark Weist, Elizabeth Mullett) and James Madison University (Steve Evans) conducted four focus groups with school stakeholders (administrators, teachers, parents and students) from urban, suburban and rural school districts in the US. The goal of these meetings was to assess the feasibility of implementing the MindMatters program in American secondary schools. In each of the four communities, participants attended a meeting where the materials were presented and explained. After carefully reviewing the materials the participants provided feedback about the potential obstacles and benefits of implementing this program in US schools.

Both qualitative and quantitative data were gathered from the meeting. Overall, preliminary data suggest that participants were enthusiastic about the program and indicated that adapting the program for use in their schools seemed feasible. Several aspects of the program made it particularly appealing for use in the US. For example, participants valued the fact that the MindMatters is a whole-school approach and addresses more than just curriculum issues. In that regard, they reported that the program appears to be much more comprehensive than existing school-based mental health programs. They also appreciated that the program provides an overarching framework for evaluating existing programs in the school and that action plans can be tailored to the needs of the individual school. The teacher training materials were well-received as teachers reported that they generally were not trained to deal with students’ mental health issues. Students reported that the topics covered in the curriculum materials addressed important developmental issues. Concerns included the cultural relevance of these materials for use in the US, the integration of this program into an already heavy curriculum and the lack of receptiveness on the part of some educators to a mental health agenda.

Based on these encouraging preliminary findings, we hope to conduct a two-year pilot study during which the MindMatters materials would be revised as needed for use with diverse cultural groups in the US. This project would occur in two middle schools consisting of sixth, seventh and eighth graders between the ages of twelve and fifteen. School staff would be recruited to collaboratively revise the manuals and procedures, pilot, and evaluate them. After completing this process, an American version of the MindMatters program will be implemented and evaluated in a more formal research project.

If you have questions or comments about this project, please contact Elizabeth Mullett at [email protected]


Funding for the MindMatters focus groups was provided by the Center for Mental Health Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration. Considerable guidance and support of this project has been provided by Nancy Davis of SAMHSA.