However, the report, called The Missing Piece, comes up short in its prescriptions for change in a way that is broadly indicative of the shortcomings of our national conversation about mental health treatment in schools.
With such large numbers of students in need of mental health treatment, the overwhelming tendency of students to receive treatment in school, and the staffing for such in-school treatment severely lacking, more than minor tweaks to state standards and professional development curricula will be necessary to provide students with the mental health supports they require. Instead, given a student-to-counselor ratio that is nearly double its suggested level, the most pressing need for students is providing funding for a sufficient force of mental health professionals in schools. One piece of legislation currently proposes to set (and assist in funding) official ratios of students-to-mental-health-professionals. However, given the quite diffuse job description for school counselors, raising the priority of therapeutic services in their range of responsibilities would make an increase in service providers much more impactful on the mental health and, ultimately, academic and social-emotional success of students.
CJ Libassi is a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Madrid, Spain. He can be reached at clibassi(at)hotmail(dot)com.