ISP for Colleges & Universities

An estimated 15% of students suffer from depression and other mental disorders that put them at risk for suicide. Each year, 10% of students report that they've seriously considered suicide.


WHY do Colleges & Universities Need the ISP?

Those who need help the most are often the least likely to utilize available services. Research shows that many troubled students have beliefs and attitudes that pose significant barriers to treatment. Each year, surveys show that less than 20% of college students who die by suicide were past or current clients of the campus counseling center.

The anonymous Interactive Screening Program (ISP) provides a simple and effective way to reach out to at-risk students and encourage them to get help. By proactively engaging those in need, the ISP supports student mental health and helps create a culture that recognizes that stress and depression are common and treatable problems in today’s world. 

HOW Does the ISP Work?

iPhone Welcome Page

The ISP provides an anonymous, web-based method of outreach that starts with a brief, confidential online Stress & Depression Questionnaire that students are invited to complete. The questionnaire incorporates the PHQ-9, a 9-item standardized depression screening scale, as well as questions about suicidal ideation and attempts, problems related to depression such as anger and anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and eating disorder symptoms. The questionnaire contains 35 questions and normally takes less than 10 minutes to complete. To fully protect their anonymity, students identify themselves only with a self-assigned user ID.

Each person who submits the questionnaire receives a personal written response from a campus counselor, offering options for follow-up evaluation and treatment. Students may “dialogue” with the counselor online while maintaining their anonymity, schedule a telephone or in-person meeting, or request a referral for treatment or support services.

Each college or university that implements the ISP has its own customized, secure website that houses the Stress & Depression Questionnaire and supports all online exchanges between students and counselors. To learn more about the ISP, contact the Program Director at For additional information about bringing the ISP to your college or university, please complete the online Interest Form

WHAT RESOURCES are Needed to Implement the ISP?

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) licenses the ISP to colleges and universities for an annual fee, which includes:

  • A customized secure website, which includes a separate administrative section where program data are tabulated for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
  • Counselor training in all program functions, including data management and utilization.
  • On-going technical assistance and support.

The college or university provides the ISP counselors, typically through its campus counseling center or student health services.

The ISP is ADAPTABLE to Any College or University

The ISP is currently being used in colleges and universities nationwide and can be implemented in any higher educational setting, including community college, baccalaureate, graduate, medical or other professional programs. It can also be adapted for use with medical residents, staff or faculty. To learn more about the ISP, contact the Program Director at For additional information about bringing the ISP to your college or university, please complete the online Interest Form and download the Introductory Guide for Colleges & Universities .


Following review by an outside expert panel, the ISP has been listed in the Suicide Prevention Resource Center Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention. Published studies have reported the success of the ISP. Findings include:

  • 85% of undergraduates who completed the Questionnaire had serious depression or other suicide risk factors; 90% were not receiving treatment.1
  • Those who exchanged online messages with the ISP counselor were three times more likely than those who did not to come for an in-person meeting, and three times more likely to enter treatment.
  • 75% of undergraduates who entered treatment were described by counselors as not likely to have sought professional help without the ISP.2
  • 27% of students, residents and faculty who participated in the ISP at a leading medical school were found to be at significant risk for depression and suicide. 48% of this group received referrals for further evaluation and treatment from the ISP counselor.3

Helpful Resources


Garlow, S. J., et al., Depression, desperation, and suicidal ideation in college above image to download


Haas A.P., et al., An interactive Web-based method of outreach to college above image to download



Moutier, Christine MD et al., The Suicide Prevention and Depression Awareness above image to download

Interactive Screening Program Intro Guide

Introductory Guide for Colleges & Universities

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Interactive Screening Program Intro Guide