The front door of Spectrum’s drop-in center in St. Albans is illuminated during the facility’s opening March 8.

MONTPELIER — The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing closure of schools and limitations on visits with family and friends have increased isolation, stress, boredom, depression and anxiety for Vermont’s youth and young adults.

To that end, The Center for Behavioral Health Integration (C4BHI), together with Spectrum Youth & Family Services, has implemented YSBIRT (Youth Screening Brief Intervention & Referral), a grant funding opportunity for schools, colleges and primary care settings in Vermont.

“We know youth and young adults are struggling,” explained Dr. Jody Kamon, licensed psychologist and co-owner of C4BHI. “They were struggling before the pandemic, and now it has only intensified. If we can help schools, colleges, and medical providers to not only ask about a young person’s emotional health and substance use but also to feel comfortable talking to the youth about it — to feel they have the right tools and resources to do so — that is a critical component to building healthy communities.”

Established in 2008, the Center for Behavioral Health Integration (C4BHI) works to build healthy communities, one program at a time, through consultation, training, and evaluation.

YSBIRT provides a comprehensive, integrated public health approach to delivering early intervention and treatment services for youth at risk, youth living with substance use disorders, or youth needing help during these stressful and isolating times, the organization stated in a press release. Their socio-emotional wellness survey, SnapShotVt, automatically tailors questions based on a respondent’s answers, saves time, and allows individualized feedback with healthy tips after responses to questions about how youth and young adults are doing right now. This tool creates an easy-to-read report with flags detailing strengths and risks enabling healthcare staff to affirm wellness choices and match risk with motivational interventions to work on the next steps with the youth.

“Our efforts the last several years have focused on helping Vermont’s youth and young adults struggling with substance misuse and/or mental health risks,” explained Dr. Win Turner, licensed psychologist and co-owner of C4BHI. “Right now, across Vermont, we have seven programs in multiple settings using SnapshotVt, and it’s clear that 30% to 40% of youth/young adults depending on their setting are struggling with substance misuse and/or depression or anxiety. Since the impact of COVID-19, our team has worked to develop and pivot processes so it can all be done securely and efficiently using age-appropriate digital tools for administering screens, automating reports, alerting providers, and utilizing telehealth as needed.”

C4BHI is currently working with Twin Valley Middle & High School, Champlain College, and a few school programs in Chittenden County. They are looking for additional school, college, and primary care partners to help extend their goal of identifying and helping youth struggling with socio-emotional health needs. Partners receive funding through September 2023, automated digital tools for screening, including automated feedback and prevention/reduction messages, training and technical assistance, and much more. For more information, visit https://c4bhi.com

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