DAVIS COUNTY — A partnership of health organizations in Davis County started holding an annual mental health screening event for junior high and high school students two years ago.
This year, the group planned a mental health screening event for elementary- and preschool-age children.
The event will offer appointments over the course of two hours on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Davis Behavioral Health — but all appointment slots had filled two weeks prior to the event, which now has a waiting list.
Parents who would like assistance accessing mental health services for their children can use the Davis HELPS Youth Services Directory, which has been updated for 2019.
This inventory of providers in Davis County was created by the same partnership of health organizations that holds the screening events, a group called Davis4Health.
The services directory can be accessed by visiting the home page of the Davis County Health Department, clicking “Davis4Health” and then selecting “Youth Services Directory” under the Health Services heading on that page.
Parents can also call the main line of Davis Behavioral Health at 801-876-5402. The organization serves people with or without insurance, including people on Medicaid. They also offer a sliding scale of fees based on income.
Isa Perry, coordinator of the Davis4Health, said that the partnership group is looking at other ways to offer screenings between events because of the huge demand.
The screening events in 2017 and 2018 served about 65 youth each year. This year, Davis4Health hopes to reach 120 young people of all ages.
There are probably not enough resources to hold another screening event in the spring, Perry said.
In addition to contacting Davis Behavioral Health, Perry recommended that parents or students talk to their counselors at school.
Davis School District is one of the partners participating in Davis4Health, and it was a district staff member that first suggested the screening events, Perry said.
School psychologists and other trained clinicians working for the school district conducted the mental health screenings at the event for older youth on Sept. 25.
Perry said that many of the health partners in the county saw a need for screening and intervention for mental health problems at younger ages.
“(Community partners) were all right,” Perry said. “(The elementary event) definitely filled up faster than the secondary event.
“I think people think of the anxiety and depression in teens and they ... relate it to screen time and social media,” Perry continued, “but ... there’s definitely concerns in our younger group. ... It’s great if we can actually do some early intervention and help prevent way more serious things down the road.”
Child and youth therapists employed by Davis Behavioral Health will be conducting the screenings at the event for elementary and preschool-age children on Tuesday.
For the elementary screening, parents fill out a system checklist based on the behavior of the child and family concerns, Perry said.
This year, the screening questionnaire parents fill out for younger children will also ask about adverse childhood experiences, known in public health research as ACEs.
ACEs measure childhood trauma and include experiences like physical or sexual abuse, living in a household with an adult who has a mental health problem or having a parent who has been incarcerated.
The higher a child’s “ACE score,” the higher the likelihood that the child will experience a range of health problems in adulthood.
Teens who attended the screening event for older youth filled out an online screening tool about anxiety, depression, trauma, suicide risk, bullying, substance abuse and overall well-being.
This year, the screening for teens also included questions about the teens’ strengths and their confidence in their ability to cope with difficulties, Perry said.
Parents at the teen event were asked about their concerns tied to a child’s sleep habits, screen time and early exposure to pornography — also new additions to the screening questions, Perry said.
Clinicians discuss the screening results with parents and youth and refer them to additional services if appropriate.
Community providers and other resources are on site at the events so that parents can schedule follow-up appointments or access other support right on the spot.
The mental health screening events are supported by funding from Intermountain Healthcare and Utah State University Extension.