TeenHope screenings reveal 25.5% of students at risk for anxiety, depression and suicide ideation
Every year, the TeenHope team at Samaritan provides mental and emotional health education and wellness screenings to middle school and high school students, as well as community resources. The program’s aim is to prevent teen suicide by identifying students who may be at-risk for anxiety and depression.
In the current 2021-2022 school year, the program screened more than 2,200 students in Lancaster and Lebanon counties.
Statistics collected from those screenings show that the number of local teenagers at risk for anxiety, depression and suicide ideation in Lancaster and Lebanon counties increased to 25.5 percent. That’s roughly 1 in 4 students!
A revealing question
One particularly revealing question asked during the screenings was, “In the past two weeks, have you had thoughts that you would be better off dead, or of hurting yourself in some way?”
Of the students screened during the 2021-2022 school year, 776 students, or 34.6 percent, responded with having some thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Additionally, female teenagers between the ages of 14-15 were shown to be at an even greater risk for anxiety, depression, and suicide ideation, which is similar to national data and data from the recent 2021 Pennsylvania Youth Survey.
Clinical Director/Director of TeenHope Valerie Minnich said that while TeenHope does not provide mental health assessments, evaluations or therapy, in the past several years, the program has identified an increase in mental health concerns in the teen population, and that those numbers continue to rise.
Valerie added that TeenHope’s desire is that students leave the program with a little more knowledge and confidence in understanding and managing their mental health, as well as more awareness of the community supports available to them.
What does the TeenHope process look like?
TeenHope operates as a passive consent program and partners with school districts in Lancaster and Lebanon counties to provide educational presentations, and in-school mental and emotional health screenings for middle and high school students.
During their time in schools, trained TeenHope staff utilize two screenings: the Patient Health Questionnaire and General Anxiety Disorder-7, which take a look at the 14 days prior to the screening date.
Students first receive the educational presentation and screening. After that, they meet individually with a case manager to debrief and have a follow-up conversation about mental and emotional wellness. This meeting also gives students the opportunity to discuss the screening and receive a resource guide.
The guide can inform and connect the student, or people in the student’s life, with local services. It includes information on Individualized Education Program evaluation, mental health assessments and evaluations, addiction counseling, and specialty population support, such as LGBTQ or multicultural counseling. General wellbeing information on where to find food and shelter is provided, too.
For students who are identified as at-risk through the screening, TeenHope’s screening specialist and case manager collaborate with them to connect them with a trusted adult in their lives, as well as local mental health resources. With consent from the student, the case manager will also contact the school counselors, or the student’s parents or guardians while the student is present.
If a student is in a potential crisis situation, the TeenHope screening specialist, who is a licensed therapist on staff at Samaritan Counseling Center, brings the student to a pre-established school professional and determines if emergency protocol should be implemented.
Digital platform for a new year
Moving into the 2022-2023 school year, TeenHope will be using a digital platform named Qualo to better implement the screening process. You can read more about the digital program in the press release for the platform here.
Valerie and the TeenHope management team expressed gratitude to Advanced Metrics, the developer of the digital platform, Mental Health America, and Fulton Family Foundation, High Foundation, The Steinman Foundation, Touchstone Foundation, and Nancy and Donald Stewart, for their support in creating Qualo.