Eighth-graders at Stella Schola Middle School received a rare visit with renowned fantasy-fiction author Terry Brooks on January 22.
Middle School Behavioral Health Screening and Brief Intervention: SBIRT
Lake Washington School District (LWSD) is working in partnership with King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) to implement a screening and intervention system at the middle school level, called Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Services or SBIRT.
Funding for the program is provided through King County’s Best Starts for Kids (BSK) initiative. LWSD applied for the grant funding in cooperation with Youth Eastside Services (YES).
LWSD already participates in surveys to assess youth issues through the Healthy Youth Survey and uses this survey to develop generalized supports for students. SBIRT will allow the district to proactively support students in building skills to prevent youth mental health and substance use issues.
What is SBIRT?
SBIRT stands for Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral To
Screening is done through the Check Yourself tool developed by Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington with Tickit Health. The screening asks students questions about their strengths, substance use, mental health and safety.
Based on screening results, the school counseling team, in partnership with behavioral health specialists from Youth Eastside Services, will connect with students who indicated higher levels of risk or requested additional support. Students may receive a brief intervention of several sessions with their school counselor based on motivational interviewing principles.
Students at elevated levels of risk may be referred to providers in the community for additional supports.
How does Lake Washington School District plan on using SBIRT in its middle schools?
LWSD is currently in the planning stages of this process and will look to pilot SBIRT this year as counseling teams are provided training and as additional supports are put into place. LWSD is working closely with King County and Seattle Children’s to monitor the implementation of SBIRT to ensure its effectiveness.
What are the expected benefits of using SBIRT?
In the short-term (within 6 months), the District and County expect to see students report:
- Decreased intention to use substances and frequency of substance use;
- Decreased symptoms of depression, self-harm/suicidality, and anxiety; and,
- Increased reports of feeling connected to their school.
Over the long-term we expect to see these changes in symptoms lead to:
- Increased attendance
- Decreased dropout rates
- Increased high school graduation rates
- Delayed onset of substance use
What is the Check Yourself tool?
The Check Yourself tool is an interactive electronic screening tool that gives teens personalized feedback and strategies for staying healthy. It also gives the school support team key information about the student. The goal of the tool is to help spark conversations between teens and their support team that motivate teens to make healthy choices.
Youth involvement in the development of the tool has been essential in ensuring the information is applicable and engaging. Electronic screening via Check Yourself can increase teen comfort and honesty and remove bias in how questions are asked.
The personalized feedback includes research-based motivational strategies to help teens set their own goals and start thinking about opportunities before meeting with a school counselor.
How will student information be kept private?
The tool is a HIPPA compliant, interactive, web-based survey that collects individual student data and provides them with instant personalized feedback about mental health behaviors.
How will parents be informed about the screening?
Parents and students will be notified in advance of the screener being administered similar to how parents and students are notified about the Healthy Youth Survey.
Parents will also be notified if the screener indicates high levels of risk and in instances where the counseling team is referring the student to supports within the community.
Who will be screened and when will screening occur?
LWSD is considering using the Check Yourself tool as a universal screener, which means it would eventually be taken by all students at a particular grade level. During the pilot year, the use of the screener will be more limited.
Screening will be staggered throughout the year so additional supports from Youth Eastside Services can be brought into the school to help ensure student concerns can be addressed quickly and appropriately.
Students can opt out of the screener, just as they can opt-out of the Healthy Youth Survey.