Middle School Behavioral Health Screening and Support - SBIRT

  • This school year, Snoqualmie Valley School District (SVSD) will join 11 other school districts in partnership 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.


    The district 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 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 plan on using SBIRT in its middle schools?

    SVSD has been collaborating with other King County school districts in finalizing our plans for using SBIRT this year in our middle schools. Our administrators and counselors have participated in numerous trainings to ensure that processes and supports are in place. SVSD is working closely with King County and Seattle Children’s Hospital 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. Only the school’s counseling team and administrators will know individual student data.

    How will parents be informed about the screening?

    Since this is a new program available to Snoqualmie Valley middle school students, SVSD will host two SBIRT Parent Information Meetings. The same content will be covered at both meetings – providing an overview of the program and opportunity to ask questions. 

    • Monday, March 25, 6-7 p.m., at CKMS
    • Wednesday, March 27, 6-7 p.m., at TFMS 


    Parents and students, who are selected for the pilot, will also be notified in advance of the screener being administered similar to how they are notified about the Healthy Youth Survey (HYS). Parents may also opt out their child from taking the screener, similar to the HYS.


    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.

    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 would eventually be taken by all students in grades 6-8.  During this pilot year, however, the use of the screener will be more limited with a focus on all 7th grade students only.


    Our district plans to begin screening 7th graders, starting in April of 2019. To help streamline the process this first year, the schools will begin with 60 students (2 classes) at each middle school. If the process goes well and time allows this spring, the schools will work to extend the screening to all 7th graders.


    The screening dates at TFMS and CKMS will take place on different days. This will allow for additional supports to be available, if needed, to help ensure student concerns can be addressed quickly and appropriately.  Screening will take place on Tuesday, April 16 at Twin Falls Middle School, and on Tuesday, April 23 at Chief Kanim Middle School.


    Students can opt out of the screener, just as they can opt-out of the Healthy Youth Survey.

    How can parents learn more?

    In addition to the SBIRT Parent Information Meetings (March 25 and March 27), more resources are available below.


    If parents have additional questions, or if they want to make an appointment to preview the screener, please contact: Jeff D’Ambrosio at Twin Falls Middle School (dambrosioj@svsd410.org) or Mark Allen at Chief Kanim Middle School (allenmw@svsd410.org).

    SBIRT News and Resource Links: