Full-Time School Psychologists and Social Workers in Public Schools
As a constituent who supports the health and well-being of students in our public schools, I urge you to support S.4217 (Jackson)/A.5373 (Ortiz). This legislation requires each public school district in New York State to employ both a full-time school psychologist and social worker to provide mental health services for all students.
Unfortunately, many of our schools are unable to provide these vital services to our students as they lack the appropriate health and mental health professional staffing levels and are, therefore, unable to comprehensively address the vast and complex needs of our students.
School-age children are forced to deal with an ever-increasing number of issues, such as: anxiety, depression, suicide, peer pressure, sexual identity and abuse, bullying, academics, home life, learning disabilities, alcohol and substance abuse and the threat of school shootings. These are statewide issues that transcend race and economic background and must be addressed in each school building by properly trained professional staff.
Students spend a fair amount of time in school, this allows mental health professionals the opportunity to observe and connect with each member of the student body. When these professionals are in our schools, they are more accessible to students who require or seek their assistance. Students are more likely to access mental health services if they are readily available to them.
School-employed health and mental health professionals are specifically trained to evaluate and diagnose the health and mental health needs of students and offer the proper individualized supports and services needed for each student. Collaborative counseling, health and mental health services help ensure the wellness of each student. If left unaddressed, a student's mental health needs can have dire consequences, not only for the individual student but for the school community as well. A student's success in school and afterwards may depend on the support they receive in their school by the appropriate mental health professionals.
I ask that you raise this important issue in conference and urge your leadership to advocate for passage of this legislation to provide mental health services in New York State's public schools.
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