Most intentional leaders use research and collect data to inform their decisions and institutional practices. Data analysis drives informed strategies for continual improvement. For those who work in the space of Behavioral Intervention Teams, you will be pleased to know, assuming you don’t already, that NABITA administers a bi-annual survey in an effort to understand best practices and themes amongst BITs.
Since 2012, NABITA’s bi-annual survey has been collecting information around the frequency of meetings, department representation, record-keeping systems, caseload breakdown, team training formats, website content, referral sources, and methods for measuring risk. It even collects websites as examples for others to learn from.
NABITA’s bi-annual survey has also evolved and continually improves, adding open-ended responses in 2016 and 2018 around “most significant weaknesses of teams, what makes teams most effective, and biggest challenges as teams work through cases.”
It is encouraging to see the results of NABITA’s survey responses over time as it is clear BITs are maturing and evolving themselves. As illustrated in the most recent 2020 NABITA Survey Data Overview, 82% of respondents now utilize objective risk measurements in the form of a standardized rubric as compared to only 33% in 2012.
Ok, enough data. Your question is probably “how is this going to help my institution and me?” Let me give a personal example. In 2017, I joined an institution that had not yet developed a formal wellness program. We did not have a case manager, and as anyone who works in Student Services knows, budgets are tight! After exploring possible solutions, all good leaders want data to support their decisions. Thanks in part to the historical data and these tools, we were able to introduce the concept and vision for what can be done to better support students in their most vulnerable seasons of life. It is not uncommon for institutional leaders to be unfamiliar with the work of a BIT unless they have had personal experience with a threatening or concerning situation that arrived on their desk. Having this historical data was a barometer for my leaders. The data is a building block that empowers and verifies, allowing for improved practices. As a result of my work and familiarity in this space and my knowledge of the data, leaders could envision the potential for a Behavioral Intervention Team.
As both a starting point and a horizon that we could strive for, we leveraged NABITA’s survey data in our grant narrative as we pursued a Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) Campus Suicide Prevention Grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). I am proud to say that my institution is now in its third and final year with this grant. We have and will continue to be a NABITA Survey participating institution, sharing what we have learned and what we are adding to the field of Behavioral Intervention.
Perhaps you have a well-established BIT or maybe you are simply trying to launch one as the sole individual who is managing “other duties as assigned.” I would strongly encourage you to take a moment and review the findings and results illustrated in these surveys. The data can validate what you have been thinking, experiencing, or stimulate new ideas and areas you can explore to improve your BIT in 2021. Regardless of where you find yourself in terms of your BIT’s life cycle, data and research should be used to inform your decisions, validate your efforts, and be a catalyst for conversation at your institution as you strive to serve your community. With COVID-19 forcing many online, it may be time to assess the technology, marketing, and tools your BIT is utilizing. You will most likely find, embedded in these bi-annual surveys, data you can provide your leadership. With this information, you can build a stronger, safer, and healthier institution.