There are too few counselors in schools

24 Mar

Many children arrive at school with mental health and social issues. In School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children:

Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University wrote the article, School psychologists: Shortage amid increased need which discusses the need for psychological support in schools.

The adolescent suicide rate continues to rise, with each suicide a dramatic reminder that the lives of a significant number of adolescents are filled with anxiety and stress. Most schools have more than a handful of kids wrestling with significant emotional problems, and schools at all levels face an ongoing challenge related to school violence and bullying, both physical and emotional.

Yet in many schools there is inadequate professional psychological support for students.

Although statistics indicate that there is a significant variation from state to state (between 2005- and 2011 the ratio of students per school psychologist in New Mexico increased by 180%, while in the same period the ratio decreased in Utah by 34%), the overall ratio is 457:1. That is almost twice that recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).

THE NASP noted a shortage of almost 9,000 school psychologists in 2010 and projected a cumulative shortage of close to 15,000 by 2020. Mental Health America estimates that only 1 in 5 children in need of mental health services actually receive the needed services. These gross statistics also omit the special need of under funded schools and the increased roles school psychologists are being asked to play….

Even with the psychological services that should be provided and often aren’t, schools can’t fully prevent suicides, acts of violence, bullying, or the daily stresses that weigh on kids shoulders. The malaise runs deeper and broader.

Still schools need more resources than they receive in order to provide more programs that actively identify and counsel those kids that need help. At the very least, they need to alleviate some of the stress these kids are experiencing and to help improve the quality of their daily lives.

It is important to deal with the psychological needs of children because untreated depression can lead to suicide. In addition to psychological programs, schools can offer other resources to help students succeed in school and in life.

Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post article, How big is the school counselor shortage? Big:

The American School Counselor Association recommends  a ratio of 250 students to each counselor. But in the latest statistics available from around the country (the 20010-2011 school year), the average ratio is one counselor for every 471 students. That means that for the 49,484,181 public school students, there were 105,079 counselors — a sharp rise from the year before, when there were 459 students to every counselor.

What’s more, some states have a far bigger divide:

*In California, it is 1,016 students for every counselor
*Arizona, 861-1
*Minnesota, 782-1
*Utah, 726-1
*Michigan, 706-1

The states with the lowest ratios:

*Wyoming: 200-1
*Vermont: 235-1
*New Hampshire: 236-1
*Hawaii: 284-1
*Montana: 310-1

In the greater Washington area:
*Washington D.C.: 274-1
*Virginia: 315-1
*Maryland: 357-1

A 2010 study,  which was the first nationally representative study of the provision, financing, and impact of school-site mental health services for young children, shows why this matters so much. It concludes that at least one in five young children in the United States has some mental disorder. But many states don’t require public elementary schools to hire mental health professionals, and, as we’ve seen, many states don’t even have enough counselors who might be able to flag problems with children….

It is important to deal with the psychological needs of children because untreated depression can lead to suicide.

Why Do Teens Attempt Suicide? 

The American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry has some excellent suicide resources 

Suicides among young people continue to be a serious problem. Each year in the U.S., thousands of teenagers commit suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds.

Teenagers experience strong feelings of stress, confusion, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, and other fears while growing up. For some teenagers, divorce, the formation of a new family with step-parents and step-siblings, or moving to a new community can be very unsettling and can intensify self-doubts. For some teens, suicide may appear to be a solution to their problems and stress.  

Sometimes, people see suicide as an answer to their problems. All of us must stress that suicide is always the WRONG answer to what in all likelihood is a transitory situation.                                


Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’


  1. About.Com’s Depression In Young Children
  2. Psych Central’s Depression In Young Children
  3. Psychiatric News’ Study Helps Pinpoint Children With Depression
  4. Family Doctor’s What Is Depression?
  5. WebMD’s Depression In Children
  6. Healthline’s Is Your Child Depressed?
  7. Medicine.Net’s Depression In Children

If you or your child needs help for depression or another illness, then go to a reputable medical provider. There is nothing wrong with taking the steps necessary to get well.

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

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