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Mental/Behavioral Health Screening

Mental/Behavioral Health Screening

With an increased focus on supporting student wellness, many schools are interested in screening students for mental and behavioral health concerns. Mental health screening is not a product, but rather a process for identifying students at risk of developing mental and behavioral health challenges (Twyford, J., Eklund, K., Chin, J. & Dowdy, E., March, 2010).

The goal of screening is to generate new and useful information so that students can be better served in interventions that prevent or mitigate mental health challenges and promote resiliency. Thoughtful selection and implementation of a screening measure is critical to meeting this goal.

Regardless of the chosen measure, all screening should be:

mental health screening sidebar

For more information on how to develop an effective screening process, please see the Mental Health Screening Resource Guide.

Behavioral Screening and Consent

DPI always recommends getting consent for screening. The type of consent required is primarily determined by the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA). The critical question asked by the PPRA is whether student participation is required. If participation is required, then active consent must be obtained. Required participation goes beyond simply mandating that all students participate. It also includes incentivizing or providing consequences based on student participation. Additionally, students must have the opportunity to assent or dissent prior to test administration. For more information, please see the U.S. Department of Education information on the PPRA.

Under Title IV-A, Parents Right to Know, districts are required to get active parental/guardian consent for mental health assessment and services, including mental health screening if your district purchased the screening or services using ESSA Title IV-A money. Additional information can be found on the Title V-A website:

To help schools better understand what types of consent are needed for common school-based activities, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has issued guidance on Consent and Notification in a Multilevel System of Support.


Mental Health Screening Action Planning Checklist

The Mental Health Screening Action Planning Checklist is a form is intended to help school teams in planning and implementing a mental/behavioral health screening instrument and is a companion document to the Mental Health Screening Guide. We recognize that this is not an exhaustive checklist. Please feel free to add questions/columns as your team determines necessary. 

Looking for screening measures? A non-exhaustive list can be found on the Behavioral Screening Tools page.

For questions about this information, contact Tim Peerenboom (608) 266-1999