When my teenager had a meltdown at school a year and a half ago, she was called into the counselor’s office to talk through what was going on with her. This talk and this counselor really helped her that day and in coming weeks as more red flags emerged. Over the next year, the counselor shepherded my daughter and my family through a mental illness diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
This counselor was not an academic counselor or a school psychologist, whose primary duty was to administer tests. She was a licensed, trained professional employed by a community based mental health agency who worked from the clinic in my daughter’s school.
Once I learned the gravity of my daughter’s situation, we set up weekly appointments. My insurance company paid for these services, and I didn’t have to drive her to weekly appointments. I didn’t miss work and she didn’t miss much school, but she got the help she needed. I’m happy to report she is doing much better these days, but some days are still a struggle.
There are lots of kids with mental health issues and most kids go to school. Why not bring mental health services to kids where they are? If we want to protect our kids, my money is on school based mental health, because it actually works. It works because more kids get help and they get it earlier in their illness. It works because counselors can build trusting relationships with students. It works because counselors can work with teachers to help students who are struggling. These are things that actually help prevent mental illness from spiraling out of control into tragedy.
These are things that armed guards cannot do.