U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Validating a Brief Jail Mental Health Screen, Final Technical Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2006
20 pages
This study sought to validate the Brief Jail Mental Health Screen (BJMHS) that can be used to identify detainees in need of a more detailed mental health assessment.
The BJMHS, which took an average of 2.5 minutes to administer, correctly classified 73.5 percent of males and 61.6 percent of females based on the diagnosis provided by the Structured Clinical Instrument for DSM-IV (SCID). These results would have referred 11 percent of all screened detainees for further psychological screening. While the BJMHS performed reasonably well for male populations, it did not function nearly so well with female detainees perhaps because it does not measure the symptoms of anxiety associated with posttraumatic stress disorder, which is especially prevalent among female inmates. It is recommended that subsequent versions of the BJMHS include questions designed to screen for anxiety symptoms. Until then, the BJMHS can be reliably used with male detainees. The BJMHS was administered to 10,330 detainees during their booking process at 4 jails, 2 in Maryland and 2 in New York. A subset of 357 detainees who scored positive on the BJMHS and a subset of 232 detainees who scored negative on the BJMHS were also administered the SCID as a standardized clinical cross-validation. The BJMHS was developed in response to a need for a standardized brief mental health screen for detainees. The document includes the Brief Jail Mental Health Screen. Table, references

Date Published: April 1, 2006