Baltimore, MD — The Montgomery County Intermediate Unit #23 (MCIU) in Norristown, Pa.,
has been awarded a 4-year federal grant to work on reducing youth suicide in three designated
regions by having their K-12 school districts, as a core grant component, use comprehensive
software called bhworks. It contains research-based mental health assessment and
screening tools, real-time data collection, referral, outcome measures, evaluation, reporting,
Nearly one in five students reported that they had suicidal thoughts in the past 12 months. The
need for both suicide prevention and training programs, as well as a better pathway to mental
health supports and services, is evident.
“This grant award will provide resources to support students and families across the region,”
stated MCIU Executive Director Regina Speaker. “This is a collaborative effort with our partners, and we are pleased to work with mdlogix and use its bhworks software.”
Each Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resiliency in Education) grant from the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers funding over
several years with a 60% dollar minimum allocated to schools. The MCIU award is $7.2 million
over four years. Grantees implement mental health-related promotion, awareness, prevention,
interventions, and resilience activities to ensure that students have access and are connected
to appropriate and effective mental and behavioral health services.
The Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit (CLIU), Luzerne Intermediate Unit (LIU), and the MCIU
within this Project AWARE grant represent 47 public school districts and 347,000 students.
Their grant goals are:
● Increase opportunities for students in all grades (K-12) to participate in a suicide
prevention training programs to increase awareness and reduce suicidal tendencies and feelings of depression.
● Ensure all interested school districts within the project region have appropriate mental health screening tools and trained personnel to assess student mental health needs to better connect students and families to support and services.
● Develop use of an electronic system to expand referral pathways to connect
school-based practitioners with mental health service providers with available capacity
to serve new patients.
Psychiatrist Allen Tien, MD, MHS, mdlogix president and chief science officer said, “In addition to electronic consent and comprehensive screening and tracking assessments, our bhworks student mental health software system offers referral and care coordination, case management, organized information management and staff access, a telehealth module, and instantly updated population dashboard outcome measure monitoring and evaluation.”
With any of the over 100 measures in bhworks, the IU providers will self-report via any web-enabled device such as a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Results are automatically scored, summarized, and reviewed by the IU providers. Once a student is assessed, bhworks securely organizes data to see a course and outcomes in real-time. bhworks adheres to all data privacy and security measures (HIPAA compliant).
From a risk assessment perspective, the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) suicide risk screening tool is already embedded in bhworks for practitioner use to follow up.
Pennsylvania has already invested in bhworks for its statewide Student Assistant Program (SAP). Plus the software is also used in four other Project AWARE programs in Michigan,
Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.
For universal screening, the IUs plan to use the comprehensive BHS (Behavioral Health
Screen) in bhworks, with parent-report (ages 6-14), student self-report (ages 10 to 24) and a new, young child self-report. Validated in different populations and age ranges, the BHS assesses 16 domains of behavioral health problems and psychosocial factors that evidence indicates are associated with risk of harms and deaths from suicide.
Collaborative partners in this Project AWARE project are the Children’s Hospital of
Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Pennsylvania Office of
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Montgomery County Intermediate Unit #23, a dynamic educational service agency, provides visionary
leadership, impactful services, and strategic solutions that maximize access and opportunities for all