About the Behavioral Indicator Training (BIT) Program

Educators interact with students on a daily basis. Educators can be instrumental in identifying youth in crisis. A goal of the Behavioral Intervention Training (BIT) program is to provide educators training and support in identifying signs and symptoms of youth who may be at risk for diverse forms of difficulties. Our hope is that through increased training and awareness, educators will be able to provide appropriate supports, interventions, and referrals to promote mental health awareness, wellness, and safety for all youth. Currently, we have seven instructional modules for educators within the BIT program:
  1. Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention
  2. Youth Self-injurious Behavior
  3. Depression in Youth
  4. Anxiety in Youth
  5. Bullying in Youth
  6. Cyberbullying in Youth
  7. Substance Abuse in Youth (in development)

The BIT program includes knowledge-based assessments, as well as self-efficacy measures, to assess educators’ prior knowledge and level of self-efficacy relating to the BIT topic (e.g., students’ self-injurious behavior). After the educators review the BIT interactive video session, they complete knowledge-based and self-efficacy assessments to ensure they are acquiring the requisite information and attaining confidence to support their students’ diverse needs. The ultimate goal of the BIT program is to promote educators’ knowledge and efficacy relating to common mental health disorders and difficulties experienced by their students.

Below, we introduce the seven instructional modules for educators within the BIT program along with some other information relating to the modules.

Suicide in the third leading cause of death among teenagers and each year in the United States, approximately 2 million children and adolescents attempt suicide. Considering the prevalence of youth suicide attempts in the United States, it is likely that in a class of 24 students, 4 students consider suicide, 3 make a plan, and 2 make a suicide attempt each year. Therefore, it is imperative that educators are able to recognize behavioral indicators of suicidality and intervene, as suicide attempts are preventable. The BIT Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training Module is designed to train educators to (a) recognize social factors that may contribute to suicide, (b) recognize protective factors that might buffer youth from suicide, (c) identify the behavioral indicators of suicidal ideation (thoughts) and suicide, and (d) understand the importance of early identification of suicidal ideation. The module includes a pre-assessment, training video, post-assessment, and resources, including Action Cards to help educators connect with the appropriate school-based personnel when necessary.

Self-injury or self-harm is the act of intentionally harming oneself through methods such as scratching, marking, carving, picking, burning, hitting, or cutting the skin, without suicidal intention. Youth as young as seven years of age exhibit self-injurious behavior and prevalence increases as youth get older, with approximately 20% of high school students engaging in self-harm. Ultimately, self-injurious behavior is a cry for help and educators are on the front lines; they have an ethical responsibility to protect students from harm. We designed the BIT Self-injurious Behavior Module to train educators to (a) recognize social risk factors that may increase youth’s probably of engaging in self-harm, (b) identify the early behavioral warning signs of self-injurious behavior, and (c) recognize the importance of early identification and intervention. The BIT Self-injurious Behavior Module includes a pre-assessment, an online training video, a post-assessment, and resources for educators to intervene and support students who engage in self-injurious behavior. We provide Action Cards and Bookmarks for educators to help them connect with the appropriate school-based personnel and intervene on students’ behalf.

There is a rise in mental health concerns among the school-aged population, and teachers play a crucial role in recognizing the signs and making appropriate referrals to support students in getting the support and treatment they need. Depression is one prevalent mental health concern among children and youth and untreated childhood depression can lead to more severe mental health and behavioral problems in adulthood. Therefore, Educators need to possess the knowledge that will allow them to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in order to help a student get the support they need. The BIT Depression in Youth Module trains educators to (a) understand the risk factors associated with depression in youth, (b) identify the signs and symptoms of depression that may appear in youth, (c) recognize behavioral indicators or ‘acting-out’ behaviors that may be associated with students experiencing feelings of depression, (d) understand the importance of early identification and intervention in providing students with the support they require. The BIT Depression in Youth Module includes a pre-assessment, an online training video, post-assessment and additional resources for educators to intervene and support students who may be struggling with depression.

Anxiety is another prominent mental health concern that influences a significant number of youth enrolled in elementary, middle, and high school. An anxiety disorder is different from feeling anxious; youth with an anxiety disorder experience anxiety to a level that it interferes with his or her life. Anxiety does not discriminate, and youth from any race, ethnicity, gender, age group or cultural background can experience significant challenges related to anxiety. Therefore, educators need to understand the signs and symptoms of anxiety in youth and know how to response and intervene. The BIT Anxiety in Youth Module trains educators to (a) understand the risk factors associated with anxiety in youth; (b) identify the signs and symptoms of anxiety that may appear in youth; (c) recognize the physical, emotional, and behavioral indicators of anxiety; (d) appreciate the importance of early identification and intervention in order to provide youth with the support they require. The BIT Anxiety in Youth Module includes a pre-assessment, online training video, post-assessment, and additional resources that educators may use to support youth identified as having behavioral indicators of anxiety.

Bullying affects youth of any age and educators often underestimate the amount of bullying that takes place on school grounds. Bullying affects one out of every three youth and any student can be involved with bullying as either a Bully, a Victim, or both. It is therefore important that educators take bullying seriously given the short- and long-term psychological and physical negative consequences on students involved. Because educators spend the majority of time with students during the school day, they are key adults who have the responsibility to identify and intervene when bullying is occurring. The BIT Bullying in Youth Module trains educators to (a) understand what bullying is and the serious negative consequences of bullying, (b) identify the risk factors as well as signs of youth who may be victims and those who may be bullying others, and (c) recognize steps that educators can take to prevent and intervene in bullying. The BIT Bullying in Youth Module includes a pre-assessment, online training video, post-assessment, and additional resources to help educators in the prevention and intervention of bullying.

Given the prevalence of technology use among youth, one in four adolescents have been cyberbullied and one in six have used technology to bully others. Cyberbullying can have a serious negative impact on youth and although it may be difficult to identify, cyberbullying occurs when youth use technology to intimidate, tease, threaten, embarrass, or attack others, and can have a serious negative impact on youth. Technology has removed the borders of where, how, and when bullying can occur. Therefore, it is essential that educators recognize the signs of cyberbullies and victims in order to intervene. The BIT Cyberbullying in Youth Module trains educators to (a) understand what cyberbullying is and the serious negative consequences on youth, (b) identify signs of youth who may be victims and those who may be bullying others, and (c) recognize steps that educators may take to prevent and intervene in cyberbullying. The BIT Cyberbullying in Youth Module includes a pre-assessment, online training video, post-assessment, and additional resources to help educators in the prevention and intervention of cyberbullying.

Substance abuse can severely affect individuals’ physical and mental health, social situations, and personal responsibilities. Substance abuse in the United States is prevalent across the lifespan. As a result, educators will encounter either youth negatively impacted by substance abuse, from parents/caregivers abusing substances or from youth struggling with their own substance abuse. Therefore, it is important for educators to understand the negative effects of substance abuse on youth and advocate for students affected by substance abuse to get the support they need. The BIT Substance Abuse in Youth Module trains educators to (a) understanding the effects of substance abuse on youth, (b) identify risk factors for developing substance abuse, (c) recognize resilience factors for youth coming from homes in which there is substance abuse, (d) identify behavioral indicators for youth experiencing substance abuse in their home or for themselves, and (e) appreciate the importance of early intervention and prevention in youth substance abuse. The BIT Substance Abuse in Youth Module includes a pre-assessment, online training video, post-assessment, and additional resources to help educators in supporting youth who may be engaging in substance abuse or experiencing substance abuse in their home.