Help Them Find a Path

New Hampshire youth face challenges no
other generation has experienced.

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Things that go unnoticed set young people
on a path that can be difficult to change.
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Screening helps all!
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Substance Use in New Hampshire

While data shows that vaping and alcohol and marijuana use decreased among New Hampshire youth in 2021, feelings of hopelessness and being unsafe, suicidality, dating violence, and cyber bullying all increased. For example, 44.2 percent of all New Hampshire students who participated in the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported experiencing depression-like symptoms, 24.7 percent reported seriously considering suicide in the past year, 19.3 percent reported making a suicide plan, and 9.8 percent reported attempting suicide.
These numbers have steadily increased over the last decade, and research indicates that the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated mental health challenges for many adolescents. Feeling unsafe is another stressor that impacts many adolescents. In 2021, 21.8 percent of New Hampshire high school students reported being electronically bullied, and 20 percent reported being bullied at school in the past year, while 9.6 percent reported missing school on one or more days in the past month because they felt unsafe at—or on their way to—school.

Research shows that students who struggle with substance misuse and mental health are more likely to struggle with learning. Youth substance use is also associated with increased lifetime risks of adverse effects such as poor mental health, physical health concerns, and neurocognitive impairments. For example, over 90 percent of adults with a substance use disorder (SUD) began using alcohol or drugs during adolescence.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey and Why It’s Important

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) collects information on issues youth may be experiencing so schools, parents, and communities have the information they need to reduce risk behaviors and improve academic performance and life outcomes.

Student Assistance Programs Can Help

Student assistance programs (SAPs) help students fully benefit from their educational experience by strengthening their social and emotional skills and reducing problem behaviors. SAPs work with parents, guardians, and school staff to provide a school-based framework for prevention, early intervention, referral, and support. This includes helping parents, guardians, and schools identify problems early on, and connecting students and their families to resources in the school or community that will help keep them healthy and safe.

Longitudinal studies provide strong evidence that interventions that strengthen students’ social, emotional, and decision-making skills also positively affect their academic achievement, resulting in higher standardized test scores and better grades.

Download “Ready, Set, Go, Review: Screening for Behavioral Health Risk in Schools” from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for more information.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Screening Can Help Identify Student Issues Early

Screening students for social, emotional, and behavioral health issues is an evidence-based approach for identifying issues before more serious problems develop. With parental permission, SAP Counselors can screen students for risks so parents and guardians have the information they need to support their students. Screening results also help SAPs connect parents and guardians to the most appropriate school and community resources.

In New Hampshire, SAPs use the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs – Short Screener (GAIN-SS) to identify students who may be experiencing social, emotional, and/or behavioral health issues. It is a brief and easy-to-use tool which can be administered in about 5 minutes. The GAIN-SS is evidence-based, accurate, and scientifically validated, and results are completely confidential.

Why Use the GAIN-SS?

The GAIN-SS is first and foremost a powerful tool for supporting student success. It’s a screening survey that can help catch problems with substance use and mental health before they derail students’ lives. Early detection allows parents and SAPs to decide how best to support students. The GAIN-SS asks 21 questions and can be administered in about 5 minutes. It is evidence based and accurate. It has been scientifically validated, meaning the issues it identifies match assessments made by trained mental health professionals.