Aug 18, 2023

School-Based Screenings

School-Based Screenings

Tips for Successful, School-Based Screenings

Tips for Successful, School-Based Screenings

Tips for Successful, School-Based Screenings

by Brittney Reiser, LMFT

Person with hand on computer
Person with hand on computer
Person with hand on computer

Below are some suggestions to help you explore the best option for your school when planning a screening. Do not take these suggestions as "musts". Rely on your professional opinion and your scope of knowledge. 

Who can administer screenings? 

A licensed mental health professional at either the school or district level must be present to lead the screening process. If a licensed mental health professional is only available at the district level, this person should be on site when screening is taking place. Teachers and other admin can help administer screenings, but can not proctor screenings without a licensed mental health professional present at the school that day. 

Who can view student’s' results?

Mental health professionals or other health professionals like school nurses at the school are the only people who are able to view student screening results. Students will not see their results after they complete the survey. If they wish to see their results, they should contact a counselor. 

How to screen. 

In an ideal world, students would be able to complete a survey in private. We know this is not an efficient way to screen students when doing universal screening. We are happy to provide some alternative suggestions that might work better for your school.

Opt out school: Screen in a group setting whether it is during homeroom/advisory or the library/computer lab. Give instructions to all students in the group/classroom. If a certain child’s parent has opted them out, they will login, but it will not let them take a screener. A screen will show explaining to the student that their parents opted them out, and that they can wait at their desk until the teacher excuses them (We suggest this so students don’t feel singled out in front of their peers)

Opt in school: Depending on how many students are opted in for screening, you may want to bring the group of students who will participate in screening into a different area. If this is still a large number of students you can still have all students login and they will not be able to complete the screener if their parent has not consented. 

We provide a screening script for all screening admins/assistants. We suggest sticking to this script to create consistency and validity. 

If you have a student who needs to take the survey in another language, please let us know in advance.

Who to screen

Start small — We suggest that you start small on your first round of screening to make sure the plan you put in place works well for your school. You might choose to start with a portion of one grade. It is of course up to your school who you would like to screen —- it can be a small group of students, or universal screening or something in between. We just want to make sure that you have enough staff to review results, make appropriate referrals and provide crisis support in a timely manner. 

What time of the year to screen. 

We suggest screening twice per school year. It is important to be mindful of when you screen students and that you have enough time for follow up. For example, you will not want to screen on a Friday, the day or few days before a holiday or holiday break, so that you can allow your team enough time to talk to the students and families if needed. 

You might also want to be mindful about when standardized testing is taking place at your school and to plan for screening weeks apart from standardized testing, if you can. 

What time of day is best to screen? 

Earlier in the day is best, so students have a bit more energy and focus.