Following participation in a learning community to help organizations better serve youth with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, SSMH’s Bayview Counseling team in Wareham is taking the lead in implementing an agency-wide screening tool to assist in identifying at-risk youth. Bayview Wareham was one of only four outpatient providers selected to participate in a six-month-long project sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s Children’s Behavioral Health Knowledge Center and the Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS).
The initiative began with onsite consultation from a national expert from the Center for Innovative Practices (CIP) at Case Western Reserve University, who evaluated Bayview’s policies, practices, staffing and training related to the treatment of co-occurring disorders. Armed with recommendations for becoming more co-occurring capable, the SSMH team participated in three learning community meetings that focused on a model of process improvement to support making organizational changes that would better outcomes.
Throughout the project, the aim of the Wareham clinicians was to improve ability to recognize, assess, and document co-occurring disorders among youth, thereby improving the focus of treatment. To help them achieve their goal, clinicians piloted use of the CRAFFT Screening Interview, a sensitive screening tool designed to determine whether an extended conversation about drug and alcohol use is warranted following preliminary discussion with a teen client.
“As I began to utilize CRAFFT, I was surprised at how many of my teenage clients were either using (mostly marijuana) or around peers who were,” said Sarah Benson an SSMH clinician participating in the project. “This initiative helped me re-evaluate how I work with teenagers in session and how I can better assess for substance abuse.” Use of the screening tool enabled the Wareham team to identify a number of at-risk youth and as a result, CRAFFT is being implemented agency-wide for assessments of all youth aged 12 or older.
As a follow up to the project, the Wareham crew is taking the lead in developing a co-occurring disorder team that will enable SSMH clinicians to share ideas, feedback, and best practices for addressing substance use disorder among youth and teens.