Seattle Public Schools

Prevention and Intervention

SBIRT and Check Yourself

What is SBIRT and Check Yourself?

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral To services (SBIRT)

Seattle Public Schools is committed to supporting students’ academic, physical, social and emotional wellbeing. The SBIRT program is used to identify, reduce, and prevent adolescent substance use and to support students’ mental health and personal safety. In alignment with SPS’ Strategic Plan, the SBIRT model includes universal screening which helps to create a safe and welcoming environment for students by reducing bias in the process of identifying and responding to student needs, and by destigmatizing access to behavioral health services. SBIRT is offered in partnership with the King County Department of Community and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SBIRT has three main components:

  • Screening: Students take an interactive, secure, 15-20 minute web-based questionnaire called “Check Yourself” that provides instant personalized feedback about health behaviors and helps to determine whether a student may need additional support. Students answer questions about their strengths, goals, coping strategies, substance use, mental health, and safety.
  • Brief Intervention: Based on Check Yourself results, an SPS staff member will connect with students who requested support or indicated a potential need to determine if further support is needed. If needed, the student may have short, ongoing conversations with an SPS staff member that focus on the student’s strengths and abilities, aiming to connect the student with their parents and other strategies for success.
  • Referral To services: If a student needs additional support, SPS staff may refer students and families to school- or community-based services based on the student’s unique needs.

Developed by Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Check Yourself questionnaire incorporates validated screening tools and is an important innovation to fill a gap in strengths-based youth health promotion and substance use prevention. King County youth and families were involved in the development of Check Yourself, and their feedback was essential in compiling a questionnaire that is comprehensive, culturally responsive, and youth friendly. In the 2022-23 school year, the SBIRT program helped identify the strengths and needs of 2,895 SPS students, and when appropriate, connected them with services and resources for support.

2022-23 Infographic

Frequently asked questions

SBIRT is a successful, proactive approach to providing support to students. Students indicate that the SBIRT program has provided them with a safe and comfortable way to express their needs. It sparks conversation between students and school staff, who can provide support and motivate students to make healthy choices. In the 2022-23 school year, over 2,800 students were screened. Of those students, 10% had needs that were unknown to school staff prior to screening. The SBIRT program helps to identify these concerns early when they can be addressed with minimal classroom disruption and less intensive support.

Yes! Taking the Check Yourself questionnaire is voluntary. SPS staff introduce SBIRT and the Check Yourself questionnaire to students and explain the reason for screening. The questionnaire starts by asking students to indicate their consent for participation. Families can also opt their child out of participation by contacting their school’s main office, counseling team, or designated SBIRT staff.

As of the 2023-24 school year, SBIRT is implemented at all twelve SPS comprehensive middle schools. Franklin High School and Ingraham High School also implement the SBIRT program.

At participating schools, the Check Yourself questionnaire is given universally to 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students. Select schools may also universally screen 6th grade. The Check Yourself questionnaire is also occasionally given to designated students who may be identified due to self-referral, low attendance, substance use disciplinary actions, or other objective student data sources.

No, the Check Yourself questionnaire is not diagnostic. A student’s results will only indicate to school staff that the student might benefit from support. When indicated, school staff will check in with the student to verify their results and talk with the student about their need for support. Staff may then contact the student’s family or refer the student to other resources and services as appropriate.

The questionnaire will be administered by the school’s Prevention and Intervention Specialist who initially reviews the results. Students are made aware that individual responses may be shared with relevant SPS staff (Such as school counselors or school nurses) as appropriate. Parents/guardians are always notified if a student indicates a danger to their self or others. Students are assigned a proxy ID when taking the questionnaire; no student names or SPS student ID numbers are used during the screening process. Anonymous data from the screening is shared with district- and county-level SBIRT staff for the purpose of determining needed resources, identifying trends, and examining bias or disparity in SBIRT response.

SPS SBIRT staff protect student privacy in several ways:

  • Students are assigned a proxy ID number when they take the Check Yourself questionnaire which is only identifiable to the SBIRT staff at the student’s school.
  • When taking the questionnaire, students are spaced throughout the classroom and monitored by the classroom teacher and SBIRT staff to maximize privacy.
  • If a student enters their name or any other identifiable information when taking the questionnaire, SBIRT staff work to remove the identifying information from the system.
  • SPS SBIRT staff follow up with students confidentially and discretely. Students are called to meet with SBIRT staff during a different class period than the one they take the questionnaire in, unless there is an immediate safety concern.
  • A secure, password-protected, data dashboard (Tickit Health) captures anonymous SBIRT data.

Each school develops and implements their own family engagement plan in line with applicable laws and Seattle School Board policies*. SBIRT engagement activities include information tables at curriculum nights, family education events, and postings on school and SPS websites. Families receive direct written notification regarding the program in the beginning of the school year as part of the Start of School packet, and again one week prior to their student’s screening date. Additionally, families will be notified if their child’s results indicate high levels of safety risk.

*Includes: The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA); the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); Board Policy 3232 Parent/Guardian & Student Rights in Administration of Surveys, Analysis, or Evaluations; Board Policy 2145 Suicide Prevention. For more information, contact the SPS Prevention and Intervention Program.