Columbia, South Carolina (WCSC) – Education leaders in South Carolina are working to meet the growing need for mental health services for children.
The new initiative to help school students and staff received a report earlier this year from the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services detailing a list of steps it plans to take to increase access to mental health resources in schools. It follows.
One is a new partnership between government agencies and the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina. Some schools will participate in the program this week.
“We are in a mental health crisis,” said UofSC psychology professor Mark Weist. “We know that more students and families than ever before have enormous needs and that there is a much better chance of reaching them through school services.”
However, not enough students have access to these services.
A new program, the John H. Magill South Carolina School Behavioral Health Academy, aims to change that.
“We have seen anxiety, depression and mental health issues surface at dramatically higher rates than previously seen among public school students in South Carolina and across the country,” said SCDHHS. spokesman Jeff Leiritz said.
The online program will soon be available to all South Carolina public school staff members, from teachers to principals to food service employees.
Learn at your own pace with courses covering topics such as prevention, early intervention, classroom support, and how schools can help you navigate mental health crises.
“We find that the longer students struggle with mental health problems, the worse they tend to be, and we see inevitable problems such as school attendance problems, perhaps discipline problems. I know.
The program is optional, and DHHS says it doesn’t want to do more unless teachers show interest.
The department also said it would not consider hiring a licensed counselor to replace other school staff.
“Very often in our audits, there were students at risk, mental health crises, and the schools had no mental health counselors, so they had teachers or vice-principals or principals or principals. I understand the nurses or some support staff who were dealing with children who were in a mental health crisis.
So while this program aims to give them the tools they need if they are facing such a situation, the state is still working to expand access to school counselors. increase.
“The earlier effective interventions are delivered, the more effective they are,” says Weist.
South Carolina currently has one school counselor for every 1,300 students, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The goal is to cut it in half the next year, and cut it in half again the following year.
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