Teen Screen Lacks Evidence, Yet Widely Used and SAMHSA Certified - Mental Illness Policy Org
Teen Screen Lacks Evidence, Yet Widely Used and SAMHSA Certified 2017-02-08T16:05:20+00:00

Summary

Teen Screen has not been proven to reduce suicide, yet it was certified by SAMHSA. As a result, Teen Screen is used in 47 states, while programs proven to reduce suicide go unimplemented. We can only guess about the consequences.

Teen Screen is a program invented at Columbia University ostensibly to screen kids to see who is at risk of suicide. In 2012, Columbia shut down the program

SAMHSA certified Teen Screen as evidence-based in their National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices (NREEP) in 2007.  It is one of 19 programs SAMHSA claims reduces suicide.

SAMHSA justified certification based on four reports on two studies. All these reports were “manuscripts in preparation”. Therefore none were peer-reviewed.  Supplemental materials included two posters and one “manuscript in preparation”. SAMHSA had no peer reviewed evidence and yet certified the Teen Screen as an “intervention that supports mental health promotion, substance abuse prevention, and mental health and substance abuse treatment.” There was no evidence to certify Teen Screen as a “scientifically based approach to preventing and treating mental and/or substance use disorders that can be readily disseminated to the field”

SAMHSA acknowledges the research is poor (2.5 out of 4). The outcomes do not measure any outcome related to suicide. The outcomes only show how many people were referred to treatment.

Once Teen Screen inventors got SAMHSA to certify the program as evidence based, they used that certification to market the program

As a result of SAMHSA certifying this non-proven intervention,, TeenScreen programs and initiatives are being implemented by 2,635 primary care providers and 634 school and community-based sites in 47 states. States are spending money on this suicide program that is not proven to work instead of ones that are.