Putting RAAPS into Practice: Mental Health & School Setting

Shamara, age 14, is referred by a teacher for appearing unusually sad and inattentive in class. She arrives with her pass from class and is greeted by the secretary. She is set up at a small desk with a computer and the RAAPS survey up on the screen. The secretary explains confidentiality and corresponding instructions. Shamara agrees to answer all questions as honestly as possible.

The completed RAAPS survey is accessed and viewed by the counselor, this allows the counselor to get a snapshot of the issues that are going on for Shamara before they start talking. After reviewing the form, the counselor walks the teen to a private office. She uses the RAAPS survey as a guide in speaking with Shamara, making for an easy conversation starter. Sharmara’s answers on the RAAPS reveal that she has serious issues or worries at home or at school and that she has seriously thought about killing herself, tried to kill herself, or purposely cut, burned or otherwise hurt herself.

As the counselor talks with Shamara about her concerns, it’s revealed that the teen’s mother is terminally ill. The counselor develops rapport through continued conversation. Shamara admits that she has also started cutting her left arm “to feel better” and is wearing long sleeve shirts so that the cuts are not visible. No one else knows that she is cutting. Shamara is counseled on her feelings and offered continued counseling support for grief and loss issues. Alternative adults are discussed as support for Shamara when she is not in school. A contract is developed to stop cutting and use alternative outlets for grief reactions. They negotiate who will be notified of her cutting behaviors and become a part of the support for Shamara. An upcoming grief and loss group is also described to her.

RAAPS has allowed the counselor to screen for multiple risks in a short amount of time and to focus in on the issues affecting this student’s mood.

Learn more about RAAPS by checking out our website: www.raaps.org.  Read the previous blog posts about the research behind the RAAPS questions.  If you have any questions, please contact us for more information.

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