The teen years are marked by a roller-coaster ride of emotions, sometimes difficult for teens, their parents, and educators. It is easy to misread depression as normal adolescent turmoil; however, depression (among the most common of mental illnesses) appears to be occurring at a much earlier age, and the past decade has seen teen suicide rates double.
To proactively address this issue, Monson High School is offering depression screening and suicide prevention training as part of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s SOS Suicide Prevention Program. This program has been used by hundreds of schools over the years and is available to a limited number of secondary schools. It has proven successful at increasing opportunities to seek help by students concerned about themselves or a friend and is the only school-based suicide prevention program to show a reduction in suicide attempts in a randomized, controlled study (American Journal of Public Health, March, 2004).
Our goals in participating in this program include:
- To help our students understand that depression is a treatable illness, and help them assess whether or not they may have symptoms consistent with depression
- To explain that suicide is a preventable tragedy that often occurs as a result of untreated depression
- To provide students training in how to identify serious depression and potential suicidality in a friend
- To impress upon teens that they can help themselves or a friend by taking the simple step of talking to a responsible adult about their concerns
This program takes approximately 60 minutes and is presented to small groups by the counseling staff.
We are using a depression screening tool that focuses on thoughts and feelings which a parent may be unaware that their child is having. This tool cannot provide a diagnosis, but does give an indication of whether a young person should be referred for evaluation by a mental health professional.
If you have any questions or concerns about this program please do not hesitate to contact one of us at 413-267-4589.
Monson High School has initiated a screening program related to the use of alcohol, marijuana and other substances. Our goal is to let MHS students know that we are available to reinforce healthy decisions and to assist them in obtaining support if needed for substance use related problems.
Twenty-eight percent of teenagers reported in a national survey that drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are the most important issues they are facing.1 Nearly 9 out of 10 students reported that their classmates use drugs, drink and smoke during the school day. Recent research has also shown our brains are not fully developed during adolescence and substance use in the early years substantially alters brain functioning for a lifetime.
The Screening, Brief Interventions and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program screening process will be incorporated into our annual state mandates screenings. All screening is brief and is conducted by a School Counselor or School Nurse in a private room in a one-on-one session. We will utilize the CRAFFT screening tool, the most commonly used, evidence-based substance used screening tool for adolescents in Massachusetts.
Students who are not using substances have their healthy choices reinforced by the screener. The screener provides brief feedback to any student who reports using substances, or who is at risk for future substance use. If needed, students are referred to our counseling staff for further evaluation. Results of the screening will not be included in your student’s school record. Students are offered helpful information and resources.
As with any school screening, you have the right to opt your child out of this screening. Please contact Maria Maloney at 413-267-4589 if you have any questions about this program. Together, schools and parents/guardians CAN make a difference for our youth in Monson.