We are sometimes asked by schools if Red Flags is evidenced based. The short answer is yes. A double-blind study commissioned by the Ohio Department of Mental Health in 2007 using both qualitative and quantitative data determined that Red Flags is effective in reducing stigma and increasing the number of students who ask for help with a mental health concern. Additionally, Red Flags is certainly evidence informed. That means its materials and process comply with numerous studies and recommendations for mental health programming in schools. The Center for School-based Mental Health Programs at Miami University, the Ohio Department of Education, and the Ohio Mental Health Network for School Success all recognize Red Flags as a promising program. In addition, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services accepts Red Flags for grants to schools implementing evidence-based programs.
If the question specifically asks whether Red Flags is listed in SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices (NREPP), the answer is not yet, even though Red Flags meets the most recent NREPP submission requirements. Here’s where the answer requires a longer and more complicated explanation.
Prior to this year, the gold standard for certification as an evidence-based program (EBP) was through SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). The registry was established in 1997 and used an elaborate review process to determine which programs would meet its guidelines for acceptance into the registry. Realizing the benefit of being NREPP certified, Red Flags waited for almost two years starting in 2016 for the NREPP process to open. However, no new submissions were taken during this period.
Then in January of this year, the new Assistant Secretary for SAMHSA, Elinore McCance-Katz published a letter stating her strong dissatisfaction with the NREPP process, “For the majority of its existence, NREPP vetted practices and programs submitted by outside developers – resulting in a skewed presentation of evidence-based interventions, which did not address the spectrum of needs of those living with serious mental illness and substance use disorders….The program as currently configured often produces few to no results….We at SAMHSA should not be encouraging providers to use NREPP to obtain EBPs, given the flawed nature of this system.” (McCance-Katz Letter: https://.samhsa.gov/newsroom/press-announcements/201801110330).
Currently SAMSHA is doing an extensive overhaul of the process to identify programs as evidence-based.
For 20 years, Red Flags has been enthusiastically endorsed and successfully utilized by schools across Ohio as an easy to use, comprehensive and effective mental health education program designed specifically for schools Many Educational Service Centers in Ohio and several Ohio Community Mental Health Boards also support Red Flags’ work regionally. Our reach is national with some schools or health systems in Oregon, Virginia, Illinois, and Michigan also using Red Flags materials. The Mental Health Association of NY lists Red Flags in its online Resource Center as an option for newly mandated mental health programming throughout K-12. https://www.mentalhealthednys.org/education-professional/mental-health-education/
So, if your school is implementing Red Flags, rest assured that continuing quantitative and qualitative data support its use, and an abundance of independent studies inform its content and process. Thank you for providing 20 years of success in increasing mental health literacy and early identification of students with mental health needs. If you are not yet doing Red Flags and would like to bring it to your school, please contact us and we will gladly provide more information.