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What is Screening-to-Supports (S2S)?

Every day more than 3,000 individuals take one of nine clinically validated mental health screenings on MHA Screening and learn more about their mental health through Screening-to-Supports (S2S) program.

S2S is an interactive online space for individuals to find support after screening to better their mental health. S2S provides resources in four domains: information and psychoeducation (“Learn”); information about treatment options and referrals to care (“Treatment”); do-it-yourself tools (“DIY”); and online engagement with peers (“Connect”). 

Through S2S, MHA is addressing several challenges facing the online mental health space:

  • How to best support individuals who are seeking help for the first time.  
  • How to best support individuals who often feel ambivalent about seeking treatment.
  • How to create content and user experiences that will increase engagement, understanding, and recovery. 
  • What kinds of anonymous online support can be used to supplement and enhance traditional mental health treatment systems.

Our History

By 2016, MHA was supporting over 1 million users a year at MHA Screening.  Our analysis of data from 2014 – 2016 helped us identify the needs and gaps in care faced by people who were struggling with mental health problems for the first time in their lives.

In 2016, we experimented with guiding users toward specific treatment options. We learned that many of our users were not ready to speak to another person or seek traditional care—even if given the option for free treatment. Instead, they were interested in resources that would help them better understand their mental health and explore non-traditional, digitally based solutions to their problems.

In 2017, we developed and launched MHA Screening and Screening to Supports (S2S) to provide the type of support our users were requesting. Since then, we have continued to develop these resources and to research the needs of people seeking help online.

The 4 Dimensions of Screening to Supports

In response to what screeners have told us about their needs, S2S operates in four domains: information and psychoeducation (“Learn”); information about treatment options and referrals to care (“Treatment”); do-it-yourself tools (“DIY”); and online engagement with peers (“Connect”).

  • Learn: This work is developed by analyzing gaps in knowledge among users. We use our screening demographic data and analysis of natural language data from user responses to identify which topics to prioritize. We have also experimented with engagement methods for presenting this information to users who are searching for information both online and post-screening.  Our efforts have resulted in doubling our reach annually.
  • Treatment: People have questions about treatment, but finding the right tone and gap in knowledge can be a challenge. Our work is in its earliest stages in trying to understand what kinds of treatment information most users are interested in finding and how best to present this information.
  • Do-It-Yourself (DIY): Just like one would read self-help books at a bookstore, people are looking for tools and tricks to apply at home, before they engage in treatment. This area of development is one of the most interesting but least understood spaces. MHA is actively working to develop and research tools that can increase motivation and engagement towards self-care, building skills and abilities, and transitions to traditional mental health care.
  • Connect: People who are struggling might want to find ways to connect with people or peers who are struggling with similar issues. In this space we’re trying to find resources and supports that can help people connect.

Our Reach

From screening we knew that our users were primarily young (ages 17-24); at risk for mental illness, but have not been diagnosed or may have been misdiagnosed; and ambivalent towards seeking help, especially within the traditional health care system.

  • Every year, MHA’s S2S program serves  about 1 million users. While about 24% of those find S2S through MHA Screening, the vast majority of S2S users now find the resources directly through a search engine.
  • On average, users stayed on the website for 3 minutes and 51 seconds, viewing on average 3.35pages. 
  • Our reach is growing: Visits to S2S increased by over 250% from 2018 to 2019. The time spent on each page increased by 14%, and viewers became 19% more likely to read multiple articles—indicating an increase in the quality as well as the quantity of content.
  • 18% of visitors are returning; 82% are new
  • 67% of visitors are on mobile (43% iOS, 27% Android)

The most popular articles on S2S are:

  1. Am I depressed or just sad?
  2. How do I get a service animal?
  3. Can I use FMLA for mental health?
  4. Do I need to go to the hospital?
  5. Am I crazy?
  6. I’m afraid I’m going to kill myself
  7. Types of intrusive thoughts
  8. Assess, screen, and train your brain to improve mental health! (Total Brain)
  9. What mental illness do I have?
  10. I hate myself

Podcast: In The Open

In May 2019, MHA released its new podcast, In the Open, in which MHA staff members discuss topics gathered from MHA screening data and the most popular articles on S2S. Episodes from the podcast are featured on relevant S2S articles. The development of our podcast was aimed to explore whether providing resources and information to users in different media (audio vs writing) could help some who didn’t want to read. Every week we post a new topic and continue to conduct research to understand the impact of this kind of work.

Listen wherever you get your podcasts or at mhanational.org/podcast.

Collaborate with Screening to Supports

We are constantly working to expand and improve the resources available on S2S—but we can’t do it alone! Do you have a resource that fits under any of the domain areas of S2S? If so, Mental Health America wants to hear from you! We invite you to submit an application to be included in our listings.

  1. Treatment services: Local and national treatment services, telehealth, or peer-led support programs.
  2. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Supports: Apps, worksheets, and other tools individuals can use on their own to develop skills and track progress.
  3. Connect Tools: Platforms for peer-to-peer community engagement, including apps, forums, social media movements, and support groups.
  4. Psychoeducational Content: Articles about mental health and the available treatment options. We do not accept unsolicited submissions to S2S. However, we do partner with other content creators who have similar missions and target audiences. If you are interested in contributing partnered content to S2S, please contact Kevin Rushton at krushton@mhanational.org.

The process for being included in MHA Screening is simple, straightforward, and free of charge. All contributions are subject to approval by MHA staff for appropriateness and adherence to MHA’s mission and values.

Becoming a Partner or Associate Member

We prioritize submissions from our official partners and associate members. Click here to learn more about becoming an associate member of MHA.

Have more questions about MHA Screening and how to you can get involved? Please send an email to screening@mhanational.org.

MHA Screening is a good platform if you want to:

  • Reach people early in the treatment and recovery process. People who visit MHA Screening tend to be less experienced with mental health issues and feel ambivalent about seeking help right away. They are mainly looking for information about mental health and interventions they can try on their own.
  • Establish yourself as an expert or influencer in a credible space. Your name and/or organization’s name will be featured at the top of each article you contribute. Our site is regarded as a credible source by Google, by our extensive mental health network, and by people with lived experience with mental health issues. By contributing to our site, you are joining the conversation in a way that may raise your profile and attract a new audience to your own resources.

MHA Screening may not be right for you if you mainly want to:

  • Advertise yourself or your organization aggressively. Any claims made on MHA Screening need to be backed by solid research and experience. Our readership is not likely to trust you if you are simply promoting your own organization or services. If you are a treatment provider or have a tool that our readers can use to work on their mental health on their own, you are welcome to apply to be featured on our DIY, Connect, or Treatment Services pages.
  • Blog about your experiences or current events. MHA Screening is an informational site, not a blog. It’s good to be timely, and we encourage you to draw upon your personal experience. However, MHA Screening needs evergreen content that can provide readers with a solid foundation of mental health knowledge. Specific commentary on current events or long personal accounts are better suited to a blogging format--such as MHA’s Chiming In blog or the IDONTMIND Journal.

How do I write for MHA Screening?

If you believe that MHA Screening is the appropriate platform for the content you want to create or share, contact Kevin Rushton at krushton@mhanational.org. He will set up an intake meeting with you, preferably via video chat or over the phone. Together you’ll review the content standards for the platform and discuss what content will be a good fit and mutually beneficial for both parties. As long as your content fits the style guide closely enough, there should be minimal “editing.”