Behavior Health Screening
As parents, you are well aware that the physical and mental health of young people plays a key role in their ability to succeed in school, have rewarding relationships with family members and friends, and lead productive and happy lives. The West Chester Area School District is committed to working with you not only to educate your children but also to ensure that they reach their full potential outside of the classroom. To this, we are pleased to offer Behavioral Health Screening (BHS), a social/emotional wellness check-up, to 7th-grade students at our middle schools the opportunity to have their child participate in a social/emotional wellness check-up, called Behavioral Health Screening (BHS). The Behavioral Health Screen is an evidence-based program developed by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
How Does the Behavioral Health Screen Work?
The school counselors, mental health therapists, and an administrative team will be in charge of the program. It will take place during school hours in a private setting at the school. Your child will not be screened without your permission. This online tool asks your child several questions about feelings, behaviors, relationships, school and safety. All screening results will be kept confidential and stored separately from academic records. The results will not be posted on the District website and not shared with your child’s teachers. There are four steps to the screening procedure:
Step One: Students complete a 10 to 15 minute computer-based questionnaire.
Step Two: All students will receive a check out with a program staff member. Students whose answers indicate they are not in need of additional assistance will briefly meet with program staff from Fugett Middle School to answer any questions they may have after completing the screening.
Step Three: Students whose answers reveal a potential concern will individually meet with a trained mental health professional from the West Chester Area School District or CCIU who will conduct a brief mental health assessment to determine if further evaluation would need to be recommended.
Step Four: You will be contacted by program staff only if your child needs further evaluation and/or additional mental health supports. If this is the case, program staff will share the overall results with you and discuss ways you can get help for your child.
You will not be contacted if your child is not found to need additional mental health services. If a vision, hearing or dental need is identified during the screening process, program staff will share this information with the school nurse.
The use of this tool is funded through a federal grant focusing on awareness, training, screening and intervention to better identify and support at risk youth throughout the Commonwealth. The screening will be at no cost to you and is voluntary and confidential. Our goal is to screen 7th grade students by the end of January of each school year. It is our hope that the screening will reassure you that your child is just experiencing typical adolescent development. However, the BHS may pinpoint a concern in the early stages offering you the ability to secure additional assistance for your child, if you should so desire. The West Chester Area School District provides this screening at no cost, but does not provide further evaluation or treatment services. It is up to you to decide if you want to obtain any additional services for your child.
Below are some commonly asked questions about BHS
Are BHS results confidential?
Yes, screening is confidential. In order to protect your child’s privacy, his/her screening results and related files will be stored separately from his/her academic records. Teachers will not be involved in the screening procedure. If 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/or necessary authorities.
What information will be shared with my child following the screen?
All teens that complete a screening questionnaire will meet privately with program staff to: discuss any thoughts or concerns that came up for the teens while completing the screen that they would like to discuss; help the teens generate a list of people they could go to for help or to talk things over with when they have a problem; and to obtain their feedback about the screening experience.
Teens whose answers to the screening questionnaire reveal potential concerns about their emotional well-being will meet privately with a health professional. The purpose of this meeting is to further explore symptoms that came to light through the questionnaire, find out if these symptoms are causing any significant difficulties in the teen’s life and, if so, determine whether he/she might benefit from a more complete evaluation by a mental health or medical professional at a later date. At the conclusion of the private meeting, if the health professional has determined that a teen might benefit from such an evaluation, the teen will be told that his/her parent(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 screening should be completely voluntary, your child may refuse to participate or refuse to answer any questions during the screening. We will notify you by letter if your child chooses not to participate or is absent on the day of the screening.
Does BHS recommend treatment?
The West Chester Area School District staff do not make any treatment recommendations. All possible treatment decisions are made by families in close consultation with a health professional of your choice after the completion of the BHS. Treatment recommendations are beyond the scope of the BHS.
How accurate is the screening questionnaire?
The screening questionnaire was developed by Child’s Hospital and research has concluded that it is effective in identifying youth with possible emotional problems. However, the questionnaire results are not a medical diagnosis. Medical diagnoses are beyond the scope of the BHS.
Can I see the questionnaire?
Yes. If you wish to review the Universal Behavioral screening questionnaire, the assent form your child will be asked to sign prior to his/her participation in the program, or any instructional materials related to the screening, please submit a request to your child’s school, and you will be notified of the time and place where you may review these materials.