***This post written by Laura Lane, Secretary for WSPA***
This is mental health awareness week. I have looked into some very basic information regarding mental health. See that information at the bottom.
With so many children and youth facing mental health issues, what is the job of the school system to support them? Students who are mentally and physically healthy have more energy and focus to devote to academic endeavors. Schools employ counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists to help meet the social and emotional needs of students. This is a good start, but without solid community based services including both counseling and treatment facilities, the schools are increasingly faced with students that need more support than can be provided during a school day. As school psychologists, we need to continue to advocate within our communities and state to increase the ability of students and families to access mental health services outside of school systems. Within the schools, we need to continue to advocate for tiered interventions that support safe, respectful and responsible students who are mentally and emotionally ready to learn.
School psychologists should continue to look for and attend trainings that support the mental and emotional health of students. WSPA’s recent summer conference on trauma is one example of that kind of training. Going back to our school districts and sharing that information is valuable. Schools cannot provide a therapeutic level of mental health support during a school day. I agree with my school counselors who have said that they see their role within the schools as one of supporting students so that they are ready to learn. Providing in-depth counseling in the short amount of time available during a school day and then expecting the student to return to class ready to access academics is not possible. More and more students are coming to school with needs that are beyond what can be addressed in a school setting. Helping students be ready to learn and then supporting that learning is the job of the schools. Thank you to all the providers who help to make students successful.
Good thoughts, Laura. Our role goes far beyond that of gatekeeper for sped. Advocate for a greater role in our schools.