We can’t watch the news these days without seeing a report detailing the adverse mental health of our nation’s young people. All data seems to point to a single finding: The pandemic will have long-lasting effects on student mental health.
Kids always amaze me with their resilience, and last year was no different. But whether last year was in person or remote, it was hard. As a school counselor, I see the effects of social isolation and learning loss walking through the school doors every morning. I hear it in the voices of kids and on phone calls with concerned parents. And I feel it through the stories, worries, and occasional tears that land in my office. When students are struggling with motivation, focus, mood, or feeling overwhelmed, learning takes a back seat. Given the last 18 months, I’d imagine every school is facing this reality right now.
Talk to anyone who works in a school, and you’ll hear that the challenge of supporting our struggling students has never been bigger, wider, or more important than it is right now. And thinking about all the students who need our help to re-engage and succeed is certainly overwhelming.
The problem is likely too big to be managed with the current staff. The American School Counseling Association recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250 to 1, but the actual ratio in some U.S. public schools is 600 or more to 1. The national average is currently 464 to 1.