$4,080 – Dialectical Behavior Therapy Group
Teton Mental Health Coalition’s grant to fund a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Group for teens who attend Teton Middle School and Basin High School was fully funded by the Community Foundation of Teton Valley during our Competitive Grant cycle. This group will teach communication, mindfulness, and distress tolerance skills using an evidenced-based, group approach in order to prevent suicide and self-harming behaviors, as well as improve the overall mental health and wellbeing of participants.
In 2018 TVMHC provided 206 subsidized counseling sessions to community members (including children). Research has shown therapy alone may not be adequate to treat those most at risk, especially our youth. TVMHC believes that our community, “needs a comprehensive and evidence-based treatment program for those most at risk for suicide or self-harm.” In 2014 the TVMHC ran a pilot DBT Group funded by the Teton Springs Foundation. Each participant was given a screening instrument to better understand their mood. A score of >24 may indicate a possible major depressive disorder. The scores ranged from 6 to 48 with a mean score of 29.2. Thus, indicating the possibility of a major depressive disorder just within the group sampled.
A 2018 report by the Suicide Prevention Program Office states that Idaho has the 8th highest suicide rate in the country and lists suicide as the second leading cause of death for Idahoans aged 15-34. Our prosecutor reported 26 suicidal subjects in 2017. Currently, there is one adolescent substance abuse group offered to kids who are involved in the legal system and no preventative or skills groups are being offered at this time. Due to the success of the 2014 pilot project and the lack of access to group resources for our youths, TVMHC sought funding to continue this vital project.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy, developed by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., at the University of Washington, is a comprehensive cognitive-behavioral treatment that was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder. DBT has been found especially effective for those with suicidal and other severely dysfunctional behaviors. Research has shown DBT to be effective in reducing suicidal behavior, psychiatric hospitalization, treatment dropout, substance abuse, anger, and interpersonal difficulties. The TVMHC’s Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Group at Basin High School will again consist of a weekly skills training group for adolescents. Completion of the group may result in a high school credit. At the Teton Middle School, the DBT curriculum will be woven into the 7th and 8th grade health and physical education classes.
With strict adherence to the evidence based DBT model, the program will last 16 weeks during the school year. It will be split into three five-week long modules that include topics such as Mindfulness, Interpersonal Relationship Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance and Emotion Regulation. These modules are the backbone of the program and are skills that are not taught elsewhere in school or often times even in the home. With the money received from the Community Foundation of Teton Valley, the TVMHC will pay the facilitator for a total of 48 skills-based classes to take place during this academic year and in the next. In an effort to cut cost as compared to previous years, there will be one facilitator for each group. The group is free of charge to participants.
Teton Valley has experienced a cluster of suicidal and parasuicidal (self-harm behaviors such as cutting) behaviors in the recent past. TVMHC plans to further reduce adolescent suicide and parasuicidal behaviors, and believes this program will reduce the recidivism rate of those participants who are currently on probation or otherwise involved in the juvenile legal system. The objectives will follow the outline of the DBT model and include learning skills to decrease emotional suffering, improve interpersonal effectiveness and to develop more ability to regulate emotions as described in the emotion regulation module. In addition, participants will become more mindful of their behaviors, reactions to behaviors and will more fully understand their emotions.