Everything You Need to Know About the BESS BASC Screener


Ethan Taylor, Writer

Each school year students take 2 BASC-BESS screeners, one in October and one at the beginning of January and many students speculate about the results. The BASC-3 BESS Universal Mental Health Screener helps counselors to identify students who are at risk for emotional and behavioral issues. Helena High’s school psychologist, Mrs. Montgomery, says these screeners are important because “We have many students who get good grades and have good attendance. However, they are experiencing significant stress. These results give us some more information about the levels of stress the students may be experiencing that is not evident if we were just looking at grades and attendance.”   

The Helena High results reveal that 71% of students (645) are at a normal risk, 20% (182) are at an elevated risk, and 9% of students (82) are at extremely elevated risk. The Helena High results mostly match up with district-wide averages (72% at normal risk, 19% at elevated risk, and 9% at extremely elevated risk). 

Freshmen are most at risk, with 14% (35 students) at extremely elevated at risk. Seniors have the lowest number of students at extremely elevated risk with 5% (11 students). Sophomores and Juniors have 11% (24 students) and 6% (12 students) of students deemed at extremely elevated risk, respectively.  

Female students are more at risk than their male peers, with 12% of female students being extremely at-risk and 5% of male students being at extremely elevated risk. According to the school psychologist, these results “match other mental health screeners in regard to the difference between male and female responses. If you look at some of the national data that the Center of Disease Control has collected, you will find that Helena High’s results match closely to national results regarding the difference between genders on these types of screeners.” 

When a student is identified as being at elevated risk or extremely elevated risk “the counselor typically visits with that student.” Depending on the conclusion of their conversation, the student will receive more support if needed. Mrs. Montgomery adds that, “No decisions are made using just the BESS screener. The BESS screener gives us more information to help us make better decisions to support students, but what those supports are aren’t decided until conversations are had with the student and the parent.”  

Though the results of this year’s screener were positive, there are still scores of students who are struggling. It’s impossible to tell what someone is feeling based on how they present at school. If you are struggling with your mental health, reach out to a school counselor to get the help you deserve.