Letter to the Editor: Response to Sun article on mental health screenings
November 4, 2013
We were disappointed with the front page article, "Screenings: Third of Tahoe/Truckee students had symptoms of mental health illness" in last Wednesday's Sierra Sun. Although the article included some good information, it also included misrepresented data.
We are happy to report that 36 percent of our local high students did not exhibit symptoms of mental health illness, as the article states.
The What's Up? Wellness Checkup is a nationally recognized health screening for teenagers developed by Columbia University that identifies students at-risk for emotional stress.
Thirty six percent of the 107 teens screened at TTUSD schools did show signs of needing emotional support, and they were connected to the appropriate resources.
A number of factors can cause a positive screen, and screening positive on the test is in no way a diagnosis of mental illness. The goal of the screen and follow-up conversation with a therapist is to normalize getting help when needed and reducing the negative stigma often associated with mental health needs.
We believe that early intervention is something to celebrate and note that results showing one-third of students tested needing help is not abnormally high, given the nature of the screening and the stressors that many of our teenagers face. Adolescence can be a turbulent time and we want to send a clear message that there are caring adults available to help when needed. It was not the intent of TTUSD for this data to create alarm or to be disaggregated by individual school site.
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Supporting emotional health is equally as important as supporting physical health, and we will continue our efforts to connect those in need with the great resources that our community provides. We are hopeful that we can get to a place where mental health screenings are as accepted as the vision, hearing and other health screenings currently in place in our schools.
Corine Harvey, TTUSD Executive Director for Student Services
Dr. Rob Leri, TTUSD Superintendent-Chief Learning Officer