Have you ever gone through a mental health screening? While they may seem intimidating, mental health screenings are critical in identifying mental health issues that more than half of all Americans struggle with daily. The process of screening involves a series of questions about your mood, thoughts, behaviors, and memory. All of these factors are designed to detect mental health issues you might not even know you are dealing with. Once the screening is complete, symptoms can align with specific disorders that can range from mood disorders like depression and anxiety to eating and personality disorders. There is a wide variety of mental health illnesses that affect people of all ages, so you are never alone in this fight for mental health. Through the use of mental health screening, the risk of developing severe mental illness is reduced as health providers learn how to best support each patient, individually.
The Screening - What Does It Look Like?
Mental health screening is proven to be extremely effective in detecting symptoms of mental health disorders. In order for the screening to be successful, the patient must be honest and detailed with their responses so that the health provider can provide the best support. In a school setting, the school nurse typically carries out the screening. If the school nurse is doing the direct, in-person screening, the student may be required to give a physical exam and a blood test. These tests will provide more evidence for any possibly physical condition, such as thyroid disease or electrolyte imbalance that could be affecting mental health symptoms. Each questionnaire varies in the range of questions given to the student because of age disparities. Prior to the appointment, the student does not need to prepare anything; however if given the blood test and any physical exams, it is best that the patient is well fed and hydrated.
Why Does One Need a Mental Health Screening?
Mental health struggles are more common amongst students than you would believe and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that among children ages 3 through 17, about 3.2% have diagnosable depression, while 7.1% have anxiety. Through screening, health care providers or school nurses can pinpoint the specific illness and the best form of treatment for the patient.
How to Screen
USA Today reports that roughly 87% of all Americans stated that they are concerned for the mental health of younger generations. It is clear how imperative it is that schools begin implementing Mental health screening to protect the health and well-being of students. To begin introducing screening in schools, a framework can be implemented which highlights expressing care, challenging growth, providing support, and expanding possibilities. Teachers can provide questionnaires and daily check-ins with students that ask about students’ mood, feelings, and goals. These questions will serve as check-ins for each classroom and depending on the responses, further screening can be done to provide support for the community’s mental health.
Recommended by The National Association of School Psychologists, universal screening of mental health status can significantly increase early identification of students in need of more intensive interventions. Strategic planning in schools should be implemented to provide effective and regular screenings. The goals outlined in the strategic plan will emphasize the need to introduce student-teacher check-in prompts that will target their mental health status. These check-ins can occur weekly, however further screening will be provided to the community following the check-ins. Strategic planning will help all schools achieve the engagement of screening as an embedded factor in the schools structure.
If you are a student who is experiencing mental health struggle, Neolth is a digital stress and mental health support program for students and educators. We’re on a mission to help you stress less, build resilience, and become a part of our compassionate community. Our app helps you when you’re feeling overwhelmed with self-guided content, personalized for your mental health journey. Neolth has a growing community of Student Ambassadors from 170 schools and works with schools to improve access to mental health support for their students and teachers alike. You can learn more at neolth.com or sign up today at cloud.neolth.com.
About the Author:
Zoe Stanton (she/her) is a Content Creation & Editorial Intern at Neolth and a rising senior at Lehigh University where she studies psychology. She hopes to use her study of psychology to work in the field of healthcare, supporting communities around her and ensuring positive mental health for everyone. Her passion for mental health began at a young age when she became aware of my father’s anxiety and watched it affect her and her sisters. Due to her family’s open communication, anxiety was accepted and discussed which allowed Zoe to create a healthy and honest relationship with mental health. Her work with Neolth and in mental healthcare altogether is to promote open communication which allows people to accept their mental health challenges and work on creating positive change to their well-being. Outside of Zoe’s career, her hobbies involve any activity outside. She loves hiking, walking, running, doing any activity where she can be in nature and detach from technology and the fast-pace of our lives.