This study examined differences in the number and characteristics of students who would be identified for intervention services when universal mental health screening (UMHS) in a multitiered system of support (MTSS) was added to those students already receiving social, emotional, and behavioral supports.
Despite schools increasingly adopting multitiered systems of support (MTSS) for prevention and intervention of mental health concerns, many schools are slow to adopt universal mental health screening (UMHS), a core MTSS feature, due to concerns about their limited capacity to meet the needs of all identified students. For the current study, in a sample of 3,744 students in grades 1 to 5 from six schools, 679 (18.1 percent) additional students were identified by screening, representing a 180.1-percent increase in students identified with behavioral risk or need for mental health interventions. Using a series of stepwise logistic regression analyses, the study identified significant predictors of newly identified students, including gender; number of office discipline referrals; and externalizing, internalizing, and adaptive behavior ratings. Findings are discussed in relation to opportunities for prevention and the systems needed in an MTSS to meet the needs of newly identified students. (publisher abstract modified)
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