Mental Health Survey: What Was The Purpose?

Alexis Binkley

Back in January, Lakota students were asked to take a mental health survey that consisted of questions asking about home life, drug and alcohol consumption, and other life factors. The survey was run by Lakota Local Schools’ Student Services with the “intent to gain insight on risky behaviors that students engage in so that they can develop and provide appropriate education and prevention efforts to limit these behaviors” (Lori Brown, the head director of Student Services.) The survey was anonymous so students would feel more comfortable answering the questions truthfully. Students and families had the choice to opt themselves or children out if they were not comfortable taking the survey. 

The survey has been going on for over 10 years and as more data is collected throughout this time period, it helps for student services to understand if their prevention efforts against drug and alcohol use and poor mental health are working as hoped. The survey is offered to students ranging from 7th grade all the way to 12th grade.  Over the years, the data shows that our Lakota students are involving themselves in riskier behavior earlier than what student services thought. At that point they realized they began talking about risky behaviors too late and needed to raise more awareness to younger students, which is now why middle school and high school students are able to participate in the survey. 

However, some students are very leery about taking this survey.  Privacy was a huge concern amongst students, one student stating “ I feel like they are just trying to get into my business.” The most common question that students wanted answered when taking the survey was, “who was [the information] sent to?”  To answer that question, the results were sent directly back to Student Services. Overarching data is provided to the Family and Children First Council so that they can utilize grants to provide intervention and prevention to Butler County students. Lakota’s data is also only shared with student services members, and since the survey is anonymous, they can only see demographic information such as age, gender, and grade level. 

While most students noted that  “Regardless of if the survey was anonymous or not my answers wouldn’t have changed, I didn’t mind taking it.,” there still exists the fear of the survey truly not being anonymous.  This  could have possibly affected their honesty while taking it, which further affects the accuracy of the results. Some students had fears of possibly getting in trouble but Lori Brown confirmed where all the information goes and how the purpose is to only benefit the safety and understanding of students. 

As the years go on it may be a good idea to further explain these details to the students at Lakota, just to give them a peace of mind that the answers they chose are 100% secure. Since the survey was explained in great detail students felt iffy.