Brett Harris

Brett Harris

Clinical Associate Professor
School of Public Health
Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior

Doctor of Public Health, Health Policy, Management, and Behavior, University at Albany

Master of Public Health, Health Policy and Management, University at Albany

Bachelor of Science, Human Development and Social Policy, Cornell University

Dr. Harris smiles at the camera

Brett R. Harris, DrPH, has served on faculty in the Department of Health Policy, Management, and Behavior since 2016 with a research focus on substance use and suicide prevention. As a part of the department, Dr. Harris developed and teaches an SPH graduate course “Suicide as a Public Health Problem” with a colleague and provides internship and independent study opportunities for SPH graduate students.  In addition to her part-time faculty appointment, Dr. Harris has twelve years of public health practice experience, most of which have been spent in the area of behavioral health. Currently, Dr. Harris is a Senior Research Scientist in the Public Health Department of NORC at the University of Chicago, serving as a content area expert in behavioral health including substance use prevention, mental health, and suicide prevention, and serves on the Board of Directors of the New York State Public Health Association. Prior to her role with NORC, Dr. Harris served as Director of Public Health Initiatives for the New York State Office of Mental Health Suicide Prevention Office. In this role, Dr. Harris oversaw all community, school, and higher education initiatives across the state, led implementation of Zero Suicide in health and behavioral health care settings, advocated for initiatives that addressed the intersection of substance use and suicide, and served as principal investigator and project director of a suicide fatality review grant and a youth suicide prevention grant, respectively. Before joining the Suicide Prevention Office, Dr. Harris focused mainly on substance use prevention and early intervention with the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS).  In that role, she developed, implemented, and evaluated Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) programs in EDs, primary care clinics, school-based health centers, mental health clinics, and sexual health clinics.  Dr. Harris’ accomplishments in public health practice have been recognized on the national level, making the deBeaumont Foundation’s inaugural list of 40 Under 40 Leaders in Public Health.


Research Interests

  • Substance use Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) with adolescents, particularly in school-based health centers
  • Integrating suicide risk screening and intervention into the SBIRT model
  • Integrating suicide safer care in substance use disorder treatment
  • Suicide risk and mental health promotion in rural communities
  • College student help-seeking preferences and access to and utilization of mental health services and resources
  • Unique mental health challenges among both athletes and collegiate athlete


Current major activities

  • New York State Rural Mental Health Listening Tour
  • College student focus group study



  • Senior Research Scientist, NORC at the University of Chicago
  • Board of Directors, New York State Public Health Association


Sample of recently completed studies

  • Suicide safer care in behavioral health settings:  A comparative analysis of perceptions, training completion, and practice between mental health and substance use disorder treatment providers
  • The role of school-based health centers in combating the opioid crisis: Attitudes, perceptions, and practice of upstream and downstream interventions