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MAYSI-2 Implementation


Putting a behavioral health screening tool like the MAYSI-2 in place in a juvenile justice program requires some planning.  Its benefits will depend not only on the quality of the tool, but also on how it is implemented.  Here we offer a menu of considerations for program administrators in the process of implementing MAYSI-2 screening.   

The MAYSI-2 Manual provides guidance on most of these matters.  But sometimes answering these questions will benefit by consultation and advice.  Brief consultation can be provided by the MAYSI-2 Helpdesk.  For more complex questions, the MAYSI-2 Project can provide consultation for a modest fee, as well as staff training on the MAYSI-2.  See Consultation & Training Services for MAYSI-2

Practical Questions About the ProcessTypically the MAYSI-2 is used with every youth within an hour or two after entering the detention center or corrections front door, or in the probation office.   Where will youths be located to take the MAYSI-2 so that conditions maximize the validity of the results?  How will proper security be managed while allowing the youth not to feel that staff are looking over the youth's shoulder? How will youths be introduced to the MAYSI-2 to assure they understand why they are being asked to take it?

Personnel Preparation and Training: The MAYSI-2 can be administered and scored by non-clinical probation officers or facility intake staff, with careful reading of the MAYSI-2 Manual and use of appropriate sensitivity to youths’ needs.   Which specific members of staff are best suited to do that?  How can management ensure staff’s acceptance of the adoption of mental health screening?  Might a brief, formal training be of value for those who will administer the MAYSI-2 and for other program staff who may use the scores?   

Conditions for Obtaining and Disclosing MAYSI-2 Information:  States and agencies differ in legal and policy limits to disclosure of test results beyond the facility (e.g., to outside mental health services, to the court, or others in the justice system).  Those conditions may need to be described to the youth before the MAYSI-2 is administered.  Often policies covering these issues of confidentiality can be developed by collaboration between the program, the court, and representatives for public defense and prosecutors. 

Program Response to High-Need Youth:  The purpose of MAYSI-2 is to identify youths who may need immediate attention (e.g., staff response to suicidal feelings; need for the attention of a mental health professional).   MAYSI-2 uses cut-off scores on scales to make this identification.  But the program must select a “decision rule” about what combination of scale scores act as a criterion for how the decision is made.  See MAYSI-2 Scales and their Use.  This also means that the program must have in place a way to obtain mental health services when the criterion is met. 

Documenting Policies and Procedures:  When matters described in the preceding comments are decided, we recommend the program’s development of a brief “MAYSI-2 Policies and Procedures” document, spelling out all relevant points.  The MAYSI-2 Project has examples of such documents and can provide consultation on their development.