The Mental Health Task Force launched a new emotional health screening program for incoming freshman at area high schools. The Polk County YScreen Program is a voluntary emotional health screen given to students in an attempt to identify mental health issues.
Year two programming for YScreen included a second year of screening in St Croix Falls and Clayton in the fall of 2016. The Mental Health Task Force of Polk County is working to introduce YScreen in two more school districts during the 2016-17 school year. Our goal is to build towards offering YScreen to all eight school districts in Polk County.
The screening asks students about cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems such as, “I feel hopeless” “My school grades are dropping” and “I blame others for my troubles.” The screening also asks about past suicidal thoughts and attempts, self-harming behaviors and the use of alcohol or drugs.
Mental health clinicians are on site during the screening days, conducting a brief consultation with each participant regarding their individual checklist results.
Participants whose score reflects a potential emotional health concern will be provided family support through the YScreen programming for up to 3 months. The support will connect families to area mental health resources to help their student treat their emotional health.
First year funding for the program was provided through a $63,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation, St. Paul MN and $12,500 from the Osceola Community Health Foundation, Osceola, WI. Year two funding consists of carry over funds from year one, plus contributions from the participating schools and the Mental Health Task Force.
The program is modeled after the Fond du Lac, WI school district’s YScreen program. The Fond du Lac district has been offering their “Youth Screen” since 2002, with a 60% participation rate and a mental health concern in approximately 20% of students screened each year. Other area districts including, Amery and New Richmond schools offer similar screens.
The most recent Polk County Community Health Improvement Plan identified the number one health priority in Polk County as mental health care. The Mental Health Task Force of Polk County saw an opportunity to secure funding to bring the YScreen model to Polk County schools to increase the early identification of emotional health issues in youth.
The voluntary screening process requires that both parents and the participating student give permission to take part in the screening. Participants will complete the YScreen checklist in a confidential setting in the school.
Each participant discusses their results with a mental health clinician; students whose score does not indicate an emotional health concern will be given resources including a list of coping skills, area counseling agencies and crisis numbers. A participating student whose YScreen checklist shows emotional health concerns will spend more time with the on-site mental health clinician completing an additional assessment.
Through the assessment, the clinician will make a health care determination including contacting the student’s family. The YScreen program will offer case management services to families to assist in connecting the student to appropriate area resources such as, mental health counseling, medication and additional emotional support in school.
For more information, contact Kim Henningsgard, Project Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Polk County YScreen program would not be possible without the generous support of our partners!