- March 31, 2022
- Jennifer Salerno
When it comes to identifying and preventing risk factors in youth – a few basic rules apply:
- You have to ASK
- HOW you ask matters.
- TECHnology makes it easier. (And more effective)
The first might seem obvious – but it’s still often overlooked. In order to identify risk you’ve got to ask. And it can’t just be when a youth presents with obvious distress – every youth should be screened, at regular intervals.
One of our professionals spoke to a girl who had flagged for suicidal ideation on the RAAPS. She shared she had a plan and thought about it every day. This professional had been working with this young girl for a long time and she had never said anything about suicide before. When asked, the girl responded: ‘No one ever asked me the question.’
We hear stories like this every day. It’s easy to fall into a comfort zone with youth we interact with – so it’s important to remind ourselves that even the “perfect” student or patient may be struggling with hidden risks.
Second, and equally important: when it comes to youth and risky behaviors, how you ask matters! Tone, body language, word choice… they all add up and can create barriers between you and the youth you’re working with.
Which quickly brings us to the third (and possibly most obvious) basic rule: youth prefer tech. Using technology to screen youth increases honesty, engagement and efficacy. But there are also less obvious benefits. Technology removes variability – so we are asking every youth the same questions, the same way, every single time. Technology can also streamline tailoring of questions based on age and brain development or health literacy. Further, technology can level the playing field when it comes to providing resources and follow-up risk reduction coaching.
We all have different levels of knowledge and comfort when it comes to risk reduction coaching. Utilizing the RAAPS technology for screening and brief intervention support enables the immediate delivery of evidence-based messaging and resources for every risk identified – but also prioritizes risks, which allows you to focus your limited time and efforts for face-to-face intervention. Technology also facilitates the initiation and tracking of referrals – ensuring no one falls through the system.
Our organization was founded to provide technology-based risk identification and reduction systems created specifically for professionals working with youth. To learn more about the role and benefits of technology in risk screening download our information sheet Talking Tech and check out our short, 20-minute “BOOST” webinar: Effectively Addressing Youth Risk