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Screening and Assessment

Integrated Screening and Assessment

Effectively serving individuals with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders requires integrated screening and assessment processes.

Integrated screening is screening that occurs for both disorders. It is a brief process that occurs soon after the individual seeks services. It indicates whether the individual is likely to have a substance use disorder and at least one co-occurring mental disorder. Individuals who screen positive for co-occurring disorders should receive an indepth assessment.

Integrated assessment means that mental and substance use disorders are assessed in the context of each other. It consists of gathering key information and engaging in a process with the individual that enables a practitioner to:

  • Establish (or rule out) the presence or absence of a co-occurring disorder
  • Determine the individual's readiness for change
  • Identify the individual's strengths or problem areas that may affect the processes of treatment and recovery
  • Begin the development of an appropriate treatment relationship

Indepth assessments provide information that is used by the practitioner and the individual to create a treatment plan. It is also useful to establish a baseline of signs, symptoms, and behaviors that can be used to monitor progress over time for individuals with co-occurring disorders.

Integrated screening and assessment should occur when an individual enters either service system. It can be conducted by the same practitioner or by different practitioners. Also, an individual who screens positive for co-occurring disorders may be seen at the same or a different agency for an integrated assessment.

Development of integrated screening and assessment capacities requires:

  • Consideration of instruments to be used for each
  • Development of policies and procedures identifying when screening and assessment will occur, in which agencies and by which staff
  • Consideration of system level issues such as referrals, information sharing, data collection, staff training and financing.

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