STUDENT WELLNESS PROGRAM
The goal of Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri's (MHA-EM) Student Wellness Program (SWP) is to enhance every young person’s learning and living by offering students, families, and schools’ insight, language, knowledge, and support in understanding the necessity of and need for mental health in a child’s education. To achieve this goal, SWP provides mental wellness screenings in partner schools, offers customized referrals to trusted mental health practitioners, and follow up case management for students and families.
The Student Wellness Program is implemented in 3 critical steps:
Students fill out a 10-minute survey regarding their emotions, thoughts and actions including indicators of depression, anxiety, thoughts of self-harm, attention-related concerns, disruptive behavior and substance abuse.
Students whose answers reveal a potential concern and those who ask for help, meet with a trained mental health professional in private to determine if a further evaluation would be helpful.
Parents or guardians are contacted by program staff regardless of screening outcome. Program staff will share the results and discuss options to obtain support, such a counseling, for their student.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is emotional wellness?
Emotional wellness is a continuum – just like physical wellness. Sometimes you’re very healthy; sometimes, you’re less healthy. For students, emotional wellness includes the ability to cope with emotions and handle stress in school and at home. Poor emotional wellness can put students at risk for more serious mental health concerns and may impact their ability to learn and function in life.
How will my student benefit from the screening?
You may wonder whether your child’s emotional struggles are typical or something more serious. A Wellness Screening will help you figure that out. It gives you a chance to help your child before emotional needs become severe or, for some, life-threatening.
Why offer screening in schools?
Just like vision and hearing, emotional wellness is a significant factor in your student’s academic success and quality of life. It is offered within the school systems to allow for convenience and to drive the mission of reducing mental health stigma. Equally, it reduces barriers to accessing mental health supports that are present for many.
Are the screening results confidential?
Yes, screening is conifdential. Screening results and related files will be stored separately from academic records to protect your child’s privacy. School staff will not be involved in the screening procedure other than to be present for support. If the program staff believes that your child is in some danger or is a danger to others, they are mandated by law to take action and notify appropriate personnel and necessary authorities.
Will anyone else receive the information about my child gained from the screening?
No one will have access to your child’s screening results other than the SWP staff employed by Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri. The option to share your child’s screening results or additional information gained from this program with school officials, mental health providers, or others will be at your discretion. The SWP staff person who contacts you can share more about releasing this information if so desired. The SWP may utilize and share student mental health information with the school without using student names or identifying information for data collection and program evaluation purposes.
What information will be shared with my child during the screening process?
Upon completing the questionnaire, students whose answers to the screening reveal potential concerns about their emotional well-being will meet privately with a SWP clinician. The student and SWP staff will explore symptoms that came to light through the questionnaire, discover how the symptoms impact the student’s life, and determine whether they might benefit from a more complete evaluation by a mental health or medical professional. After the follow-up interview, if the SWP staff has determined that a student might benefit from such an assessment, the student will be told that their parent(s)/guardian(s) will be contacted to discuss a recommendation for follow-up.
What if I provide consent, but my child doesn’t want to participate?
Because we believe screenings should be completely voluntary, your child may refuse to participate or answer any questions during the screening. We will follow up with the adult who registered the student if a child chooses not to participate or is absent on the screening day. Every effort will be made to screen students who wish to be screened.
Does the screening program recommend treatment?
Based upon the screening results, the SWP staff may offer referrals to local community clinicians and/or services provided by the school. After the recommendation for further evaluation, families make all possible treatment decisions in close consultation with a health professional of their choice. Specific treatment recommendations are beyond the scope of the SWP.
What is the screening tool? How accurate is it?
The screening used for the SWP is the PSC-Y Plus. Massachusetts General Hospital developed the Pediatric Symptom Checklist-Youth Self-Report (PSC-Y), and research has concluded that it helps identify youth with possible emotional wellness impairment. We have partnered with Lawrence University to add questions about suicide, selfharming, and alcohol and drug use to increase the scope of the PSC-Y. The SWP does not generate a medical diagnosis.