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Brief Jail Mental Health Screen

The Brief Jail Mental Health Screen (BJMHS) (Steadman, 2005) is a short eight-item screening instrument for correctional officials to use to identify severe mental illnesses and acute psychiatric issues upon intake into prison or during the booking process. Its items are based on the original 14-item Referral Decision Scale (RDS), a similar short screening test for mental health issues among inmates, but which suffered from some face validity issues, and problems in discriminating among schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and major depression. The first section of the screening assessment measures the occurrence of mental health symptoms in the last 6 months, while the second section addresses whether the respondent was ever hospitalized for emotional or mental health problems and whether he or she is currently taking psychiatric medication. The Brief Jail Mental Health Screen takes between 2 and 3 minutes to complete, on average. Choose either yes or no to each question, and enter any refusals at the bottom of the questionnaire in a notes section. Medication refers to "prescribed" medication.
Steadman, H. J., & Policy Research Associates, Inc. (2005). Brief Jail Mental Health Screen
Choose: male | female

Item Yes No
1. Do you currently believe that someone can control your mind by putting thoughts into your head or taking thoughts out of your head?
2. Do you currently feel that other people know your thoughts and can read your mind?
3. Have you currently lost or gained as much as two pounds a week for several weeks without even trying?
4. Have you or your family or friends noticed that you are currently much more active than you usually are?
5. Do you currently feel like you have to talk or move more slowly than you usually do?
6. Have there currently been a few weeks when you felt like you were useless or sinful?
7. Are you currently taking any medication prescribed for you by a physician for any emotional or mental health problems?
8. Have you ever been in a hospital for emotional or mental health problems?
Check any that apply Language Barrier
Difficulty Understandig Questions
Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol


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