Walla Walla, Washington, August 21, 2023 – Over half of 12th graders in Walla Walla County reported symptoms of depression and nearly one quarter reported seriously attempting suicide, according to 2021 Walla Walla County data from the statewide Healthy Youth Survey. In response to these alarming trends, the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health engaged a team of nationally recognized experts to assess the county’s school behavioral health system to inform collaboration and improvement efforts. The study follows a broader assessment of the Walla Walla County behavioral health system conducted in 2022.
The focus of the current study is student behavioral health services and supports including any programming or services that support social and emotional wellbeing, prevent mental health and substance use problems, or support a student with a diagnosed mental health or substance use disorder. The study includes services and supports provided within schools as well as efforts to refer and coordinate access to supports and services in the community for youth.
The multidisciplinary research team is composed of staff at the Human Services Research Institute and the National Center for School Mental Health.
To support the study, the Walla Walla Department of Community Health, in partnership with the superintendents of the county’s public schools, is asking for middle and high school students, parents or caregivers of students of any age, public school staff, and community partners who support youth behavioral health to participate in a brief, anonymous survey that asks about student behavioral health system needs. The results of the survey, as well as other information generated by the study, will be available in a final report released in December 2023. The report will include actionable recommendations to the county to address students’ behavioral health needs.
There are different versions of the survey for the four target groups: middle and high school students, parents or caregivers, public school staff, and service providers or other community members; each version is available in English and Spanish and takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. The survey does not ask for respondents’ names or any identifying information. All information is being gathered anonymously and will be used for the purpose of improving school-based services and supports.
The survey will be open until September 30th, 2023.