The National Pulse – Texas School Safety “Action Plan” Contains More Problems than Solutions

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In this article, Dr. Effrem discusses the new school safety initiatives out of Texas following the tragic school shooting in Santa Fe, and the problematic use of mental health screenings.

The first element of the plan is to “provide mental health evaluations that identify students at risk of harming others and provide them with the help they need.” This is the Telemedicine Wellness Intervention Triage & Referral (TWITR) Project, one of the programs that I wrote about several weeks ago. This program sends troubled students, referred by teachers, for screening by licensed professional counselors and, if necessary, for two telemedicine sessions with psychiatrists. According to the program’s data sheet, nearly 42,000 students were “impacted” by the program, with 1 percent (about 400) referred for triage and 215 receiving the counseling sessions.

However, while it may be a step forward that those truly in need of counseling are receiving it, there are several issues not mentioned in the information given. One unmentioned issue is the false positive rate of the screening. Although it is likely to be better than a standard written or online screen, because the screening is done by a licensed mental health professional, as previously discussed, the psychiatric profession readily admits that diagnosis is not standardized but is rather a consensus judgment, and diagnosing children and adolescents is especially difficult due to rapid developmental changes. A 2016 international psychiatric conference also highlighted the crisis of consensus for that specialty.]

You can view the full article at the National Pulse here.

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