Students’ unmet mental health needs can be a significant barrier to student academic, personal-social and career development; and even compromise school safety. school counselors do not provide long-term therapy in schools to address psychological disorders; however, they must be prepared to recognize and respond to student mental health crises and needs, and to address these barriers to student success by offering education, prevention, and crisis and short-term intervention until the student is connected with available community resources.
Schools are often one of the first places where mental health crises and needs of students are recognized and initially addressed (Froeschle & Meyers, 2004). Research indicates that 20% of students are in need of mental health services, yet only one out of five of these students receive the necessary services (Kaffenberger & Seligman, 2007). Although school counselors are knowledgeable and skilled in counseling, school counselors have a responsibility to ensure the academic, career and personal/social development of all students and to provide a comprehensive school counseling program to meet the developmental needs of all students in the school. school counselors must also recognize and respond to students’ mental health while working within the ASCA’s Ethical Standards for School Counselors and state and national legislation such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which affords parents’ or legal guardians’ privacy rights for their children.
The School Counselor’s Role school counselors are knowledgeable and skilled in working with students who are struggling with developmental or mental health issues. school counselors develop and deliver a comprehensive school counseling program that promotes positive development which includes offering education, prevention and short-term intervention services designed to promote positive mental health and to remove any barriers to student success.
School Counselors: • Provide responsive services including internal and external referral procedures, short-term counseling or crisis intervention focused on mental health or situational (e.g. grief, difficult transitions) concerns with the intent of helping the student return to the classroom and removing barriers to learning; • Deliver the guidance curriculum which enhances awareness of mental health; promotes positive, healthy behaviors; and seeks to remove the stigma associated with mental health issues. • Provide individual planning with students that addresses their academic, career and personal-social (including mental health) needs; • Educate teachers, administrators, parents/guardians, and community stakeholders about the mental health concerns of students, including recognition of the role environmental factors have in causing or exacerbating mental health issues; • Advocate and collaborate with school and community stakeholders to ensure that students and their families have access to mental health services. Professional school counselors should regularly participate in professional development to increase their ability to recognize and respond to student mental health crises and concerns.
Students’ unmet mental health needs pose barriers to learning and development. Because of professional school counselors’ training and position, they are uniquely qualified to provide education, prevention, intervention and referral services to students and their families. Although school counselors do not provide long-term therapy in schools, they provide a comprehensive school counseling program designed to meet the developmental needs of all students. As a component of this program, school counselors collaborate with other educational professionals and community service providers to assist with the mediation of student mental health issues and to promote healthy lifestyle choices. WWW. S C H O O L C O U N S E L O R . O R G