Additional Mental Health Professionals in the School Setting
As a constituent and someone who cares deeply about the emotional, psychological and social well-being of our children, I urge you to pass legislation to provide public school students with greater access to school psychologists, social workers and counselors.
There are two pieces of legislation that would assist schools in meeting this objective: they are S.1969/A.5019, which would ensure that all public schools throughout New York State have a full-time licensed social worker and a full-time licensed psychologist on staff to meet the needs of their students; and S.831/A.7473, which would require at least one full-time certified or licensed school counselor in each public school.
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, academic problems, issues at home, learning disabilities, alcohol and substance abuse and even the threat of school shootings.
These are all statewide issues that transcend race and economic background and must be addressed in each school building by school psychologists, social workers and counselors who are properly trained to identify, engage and respond to students' various, personal needs.
Additionally, for the past 14 months, students and their families have been forced to deal with anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., isolation from friends, inconsistent schooling policies, family illness/death, family job losses…etc.). This anxiety, coupled with the governor's recent announcement that schools will be fully open in the fall of 2021, underscores the need for additional mental health professionals in our schools.
Students spend a fair amount of time in school, which offer mental health professionals the opportunity to observe, connect with and relate to 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. 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 beyond may depend on the support they receive early on, by the appropriate mental health professionals.
Therefore, I respectfully ask that you bring up these issues with your conference and advocate for the passage of S.1969 (Jackson)/A.5019 (Gonzalez-Rojas) to increase the number of full-time school psychologists and social workers in our public schools; and S.831 (Gounardes)/A.7473 (Clark) to require a school counselor in each public school in New York State. I look forward to a reply to my email.
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