"Know Your Teen" Campaign Begins in Oregon
November 23, 2005—Portland, Oregon— Are you concerned or worried about your teens behavior? Do you need information and guidance? Try StepOne for Parents.
StepOne for Parents is part of the "Know Your Teen" campaign. "Know Your Teen" is the brain-child of a group of parents, mental health professionals and computer programmers. Unlike other screening approaches, this approach is FOR parents and NOT just for professionals. This means that parents can screen their child whenever they want. The basic idea is that parents who have a child in crisis want help now. They don't want to wait weeks for an appointment. Parent want answers to four questions.
This is where StepOne for Parent is designed to help.
StepOne for Parents is a questionnaire and computer program that operates on the Web. The program can be used by parents to screen their children for behavioral and emotional problems including the risk of self-harming, suicidal and violent behavior. Parents can go online to a web site and answer a series of questions about their adolescent. The website automatically creates a 16 to 30 page report that parents can read and print. The screening report describes potential problems and provides guidance and referral information based on the parent’s zip code. The entire process is secure and private. Parents can give the results to their doctor or a qualified counselor or mental health professional.
Screening youth for emotional and behavioral problems is very important. According to the U.S. Health Department, nearly 21 percent of children between the age of 11 and 17 have a diagnosable behavioral and/or mental health problem that significantly interferes with school, peer or family functioning. There is also a tremendous scarcity of funds, programs and community services that are available to work with these children. Likewise, there is a scarcity of health care and mental health care professionals who can properly screen such a high number of children. As a result, very few of these children are identified and receive appropriate help. Without help, many of these children will continue to have emotional, behavioral or substance abuse problems as adults.
StepOne for Parents has been designed, reviewed and tested by leading world mental health and technology experts who can speak to this approach. The program has national endorsement and a research team of mental health professionals using it. StepOne for Parents has obtained extensive ethical and professional review. The developers want parents to know that "Know Your Teen" and "StepOne for Parents" is a charitable service and available at no charge to parents in the State of Oregon. No financial support has been accepted from pharmaceutical companies.
"Know Your Teen" is more than just screening. The program offers free screening on demand, weekly parent seminars and a book for parents. The book is the first comprehensive reference written for parents who have an adolescent in crisis. The screening, seminars and book are designed to work together.
So far over 2000 parents have used StepOne for Parents since 2004. MRI reviewed feedback in 2005 from a sample of over 500 parents. 97% found the report very well organized and useful. 99% felt comfortable sharing the results with a doctor. The report is written for about a 7th and 8th grade reading level. There is actually an online test that parent must take and pass in order to access the system. The test measures reading ability, comprehension and understanding. As we discussed some people can't actually gain access to the system if they have significant reading disabilities. This test measures comprehension of an informed consent agreement as a condition of use. The test also estimates the validity of the results including the reliability and validity of the information provided.
If you think you know your teen, you might want to try StepOne for Parents. You may discover that you don't know your child as well as you think. You may also discover that you know your child very well.
MRI is seeking parent feedback and is open to suggestions that will make the delivery of screening more effective for everyone evolved. Every recommendation and suggestion for further review has been implemented to the point that some professionals expressed concern that the developers are wasting time addressing minor issues and that they are delaying the release of an important resource for parents. The development of a powerful screening and intervention program takes time. This approach has been under research for nearly 20 years and only became possible when Microsoft developed the technology to make this possible.
The sponsors for "Know Your Teen" are, Mentor Research Institute (MRI). Combined Communications, Inc and their radio stations. Together they made the decision to move forward with the campaign because the problems parents face are severe and not getting better. MRI believes that the harm from a lack of action far outweighs any risk they can foresee after two years of study and testing.
The entire StepOne program and process is documented on the programs web site including the potential impacts and steps taken to mitigate potential problems in advance. One of the procedures involves speaking with and working closely with any "point of contact" that makes a suggestion or raises a concern. Mental health professionals, schools, physicians and law enforcement are potential points of contact for parents. MRI offers information, training and the means for parents and professionals to become more involved. Several trainings have been offered and MRI plans on offering more in the near future. The next training will be in Portland. The Dec 4th registration is available on their web site www.InCrisis.Org.
Azy Barak, PhD is considered a leading world expert. He provided one of several independent reviews. Every recommendation or concern expressed by professionals since the inception has been addressed. His full review is available on the site. Azy states,
"...What has struck me most has been the limitless investment that the site owners have put into making InCrisis a better service through following and maintaining strict, thorough professional guidelines, including meticulous attention to a combination of scientific, ethical, legal, and technological issues and standards."
We are excited by the use of StepOne Online for Parents by the safe schools alliance of Central Oregon. StepOne for Parents is designed to help parents find help for their child before violence and other self-destructive behavior starts. It can also help parents who are worried about their child.
U.S. Federal health and research agencies conclude there is a gap between the need for services and the ability of communities to provide services to children and adolescents. This is a national problem. As such, Mentor Research Institute fully expects that screening may result in an increased demand for face to face evaluation and intervention services. However, we feel that the potential lack of evaluation and treatment services in a community is no reason to ignore potential health and mental health concerns. Potential problems should be identified so that parents can fulfill their responsibilities as parents. U.S. Federal action agendas and recommendations call for greater parental involvement, education and empowerment because there are simply not enough resources available to identify and respond to children's mental health problems.
StepOne for Parents is designed to help involve, educate and empower parents to seek the care they believe is necessary and appropriate for their child while respecting their rights and responsibilities as parents. This objective is consistent with the recommendations set forth by the President's New Freedom Commission, Office of the President of the United States, Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and many professional and consumer organizations. MRI is committed to making a difference and it is my personal goal that MRI will eventually be a Foundation that will not only help screen and identify problems but also be able to provide funding for the many services needed.
StepOne for Parents has been extensively reviewed and endorsed by independent experts in mental health and the internet. The National Coalition of Mental Health Professionals and Consumers have endorsed StepOne for Parents. The Board of Directors state,
"...StepOne for Parents maintains family privacy, parental control over information about their children and promises to move beyond controversy to provide a useful and effective means to bring families and adolescents to the clinical care they need. StepOne for Parents supports adolescents and their families. Parents screen the emotional health of their children, on their own schedule, in the privacy of their own homes."
StepOne was developed from the awareness that:
Most importantly the sponsors of this program want parents and professionals to understand that the results provided in the report are designed to support and NOT replace the important role of face to face evaluation by a qualified professional. Information covering mental health issues, additional links and information about this program including contact information is available at www.InCrisis.org
"Know You Teen" is not an emergency service but rather an information and educational service. Mentor Research Institute and sponsors of this non-profit community service appreciate any support, feedback or recommendations you might have.
Released: November 23, 2005
Mentor Research Institute is a non-profit educational and research organization with a focus on mental health for youth and families; homelessness, effective intervention, public and professional education.
# # #