It is no secret that counselors in schools have a large number of students under their care. In addition to working with these students, they have paperwork and a variety of other mandatory work. The problem in recent years is that there simply are not enough counselors to care for the day to day needs of students. Kids and teens in middle and high school are in more need of help.
Why the Need is There
The reality is that approximately one in every five teens has a mental health condition. While the number of students in need of counselors and therapists has gone up, the professionals in schools have not. Schools now realize that the quicker they intervene with a child, the better the outcome. They are able to work with students on skills to help them cope with anxiety. If anxiety decreases, so will other behaviors and the likelihood of depression. With proper counseling and therapy sessions, students are able to feel better about themselves and increase their physical health in the process.
Kids are in school the majority of the day when they are awake. This means that it’s the perfect location for them to get additional mental health therapy. While school counselors may not have the time and experience to assist students, others within the community will. If teens get the support which they need early enough, less crisis management may be needed for them in the long run.
Working as a Community
Budgets are tight in schools. This means that they often look within the community to help them to provided additional services for students in need. Many are reaching out to community-based counseling clinics to house hours within their schools. This means kids in need won’t have to miss school, they can see someone at a point during the school day. They are also available more often if an emergency comes up.
Schools who have tried this program have seen success. An example is the Wausau School District where they tried a pilot program using local agencies within their schools. They noted that students are more likely to reach out for assistance because they know someone will be there for them. In addition to this, they found that over 50% of students who used the therapists had never seen one before. This shows that actively providing the therapy for the students may help prevent escalation of concerns for many students.
If schools are interested in this type of program, they need to begin looking into how they will be paid for. Services are not free, but they can work with families to get them covered by insurance. Does your school have a similar mental health program available? Please share how you were able to set it up and how it has been working for your school.