Middle School Behavioral Health Screening and Support - SBIRT
Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) partners with the King County Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) to implement a middle school-based program called SBIRT. The acronym SBIRT stands for: Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Services. The goal of the SBIRT initiative is to promote positive mental health and reduce adolescent substance abuse, by helping identify students who may need extra support and connecting them with the resources they may need to thrive.
Funding for the program is provided through King County’s Best Starts for Kids initiative. SVSD applied for the grant funding in cooperation with Sound Behavioral Health and Friends of Youth, and was awarded the three-year grant in 2018, along with 11 other school districts.
The district also participates in the Healthy Youth Survey every two years to assess youth issues and develop generalized supports for students. The SBIRT program allows 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 Sound Behavioral Health and Friends of Youth, 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 Snoqualmie Valley School District use SBIRT in its middle schools?
SVSD has been collaborating with other King County school districts to develop our plan for using SBIRT in our middle schools. Our administrators and counselors have participated in numerous trainings to ensure that processes and supports are in place. And, SVSD is working closely with King County and Seattle Children’s Hospital to monitor the implementation of SBIRT to ensure its effectiveness.
During the 2018-19 school year, our district piloted the program with a sampling of 7th grade classes. This year, we plan to administer the screening to all 7th and 8th grade students, during the first semester.
What are the expected benefits of using SBIRT?
In the short-term, the district and county expect to see students who receive extra support 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. Only the school’s counseling team and administrators will know individual student data.
Who will be screened and when will screening occur?
SVSD is planning to use the Check Yourself tool as a universal screener, which means it will be offered to all students in grades 7-8, at all three SVSD middle schools.
A letter will go home to each family with the exact screening date for their 7th or 8th grade student.
Students can opt out of the screener at any time, just as they can opt out of the Healthy Youth Survey.
How will parents be informed about the screening?
The district is hosting a SBIRT Parent Information Meeting on Monday, September 30, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Snoqualmie Middle School. Middle school parents districtwide are invited for an overview of the program, which is in its second year of implementation, and an opportunity to ask questions.
As referenced above, each school will send a letter home to each family with the date their student will be screened.
After the screener is administered, parents will also be notified if their student’s results indicate high levels of risk, and in instances when the counseling team is referring the student to supports within the community.
Parents may also opt out their child from taking the screener.
Additional SBIRT News and Resource Links:
- SBIRT Screener Questions
- King County Frequently Asked Questions
- Seattle Times
- King County Best Starts
Questions? Please contact:
- At Chief Kanim Middle School, please contact Assistant Principal Mark Allen (email@example.com or 425-831-8230).
- At Snoqualmie Middle School, please contact Principal Megan Botulinski (firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-831-8446).
- At Twin Falls Middle School, please contact Success Coordinator Lindsay Bolender (email@example.com or 425-831-4141).