Student Mental Health Screening
Park High School and Sleeping Giant Middle School are committed to supporting students. Local and national data show higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality in youth living in Park County and other Rocky Mountain areas than elsewhere in the nation. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 2021 indicates that while most students do not experience suicidality, nearly 10% of Park High School respondents, and nearly 8% of Sleeping Giant Middle School respondents, had actually attempted suicide within the past 12 months. To better support our students, we screen for mental health concerns and work with families to support students and address those concerns through school and community-based assistance. Here is some brief information:
Participation in the mental health screening is encouraged, but voluntary. Students can ask to stop testing at any time.
- Many students in grades 6-12 have participated in the screenings. They and their parents and guardians provided helpful feedback about what went well and what could go better.
- Much like our other health and dental screenings, our school nurses will manage this health screening with assistance from local health care and mental health professionals.
- The screening measures learning as well as health. Information gathered from the screening is used to measure the effectiveness of the school’s whole-child skill development approach, used to teach students how to maintain energy, vitality, happiness, pride, healthy relationships, and resilience, even when they face adversity.
- Screening also identifies some students who need additional support at school or in the community. Many extra health supports are now available for free at school, provided by trained, licensed professionals. The school will contact parents or guardians to obtain consent for the student to receive such services.
- Past screening has identified a small percentage of students who were struggling with urgent, difficult issues such as suicidality, but who had not said anything or shown outward signs. In such cases, the school attempts to immediately contact parents or guardians and will continue that effort until successful, and also immediately alerts an interagency team of professionals trained to support a student in an emotional health crisis, even if parents or guardians cannot be reached.
- Screening is safe and effective. It detects mental health issues but does not cause them. Past participants in the computerized screenings reported appreciating that they were asked the questions.
- The computerized tool uses a branching survey, so the screening is more accurate and takes less time to complete than paper versions. Most students will finish the screening in under 15 minutes.
- Every effort will be made to protect students’ privacy. Students will be issued an alpha-numeric code that they will use when they log in to the survey. Only the school nurses will have access to those codes, and personally-identifiable results will be shared only with the student and parents or guardians except in cases of imminent crisis or as allowed by parents or guardians on this consent form.
- The consent form is for the school year, as the screening will be given periodically.
- The school will follow up with parents and guardians and students to find out how the screening went and what can go better.
For more detailed information about the project, please call the high school nurse or principal at 406 222 0448, or the Director of School-Based Mental and Behavioral Health, Todd Wester, at 406 222 0861.