Rather than Armed Guards, How About Trained Mental Health Professionals in Every School?

ImageWhen 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.

One response to “Rather than Armed Guards, How About Trained Mental Health Professionals in Every School?

  1. Teachers and school staff are really on the front lines when it comes to recognizing the signs of mental illness. Several of my son’s teachers, at conference time, asked me, “what is wrong with your son?”. Was there something wrong? I didn’t know. I thought it was normal teenage angst. It would have been nice if someone had clued me in earlier that this was not normal teenage behavior. If we can get these kids help BEFORE they have an actual psychotic break, so much heartache and damage could be avoided. We really need to reduce the stigma and make people aware that this can happen to any family at any time, help everybody recognize the early signs before actual damage occurs. More school based mental health diagnosis and treatment could lead toward our children moving on to university and leading healthy, active, happy and productive lives. They need to know that they are not alone, help is there, people are ready to listen.

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