While it’s great news that hundreds of millions of dollars are available for schools to bolster mental health services, hiring qualified counselors could be challenging. This is because young people in America face a Mental Health Crisis. According to Jill Cook from the American School Counselor Association, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34.
The U.S. Department of Education announced that it is allocating $280 million to increase access to mental health support in schools. This is made possible by the Safer Communities Act, which seeks to prevent school violence through an increased focus on mental health initiatives. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona says that schools can now apply for these grants. And should hire additional school psychologists, school social workers, and family support workers that help families deal with the trauma they’ve experienced.
This is a step in the right direction, as more counselors will be able to provide support to students who may be struggling with mental health issues. However, an acute shortage of school mental health professionals and counselors might make it more difficult to do.
Cook insists that there should be one counselor per 250 students, but presently, the ratio is one counselor for every 415 students. She stated that 80,000 additional school counselors are needed to meet this ideal ratio. She further said that this is the first time in her memory that there are more school counselor vacancies than available professionals. She also commented that the new grants from the education department would assist in funding programs designed to attract more counselors.