Elementary School Mental Health Services Could Get A Boost

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Improved mental health services in Delaware elementary schools is the goal of legislation approved in the House of Representatives.

House Bill 100 would provide resources to allow elementary schools to hire a full time school counselor, social worker or licensed clinical worker for every 250 students. They would also be able to hire a full-time school psychologist or licensed mental health therapist for every 700 students.

“As we’ve seen time and time again, schools aren’t just spaces to learn lessons out of a textbook. They are formative years in a child’s life, and mental health services are critical to that foundation. The need for more adequate services has become even clearer during the past year due to COVID, which has put an enormous mental health stress on our children,” House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear said. “This bill will address the disparity and shortfall of mental health professionals in Delaware elementary schools. For far too long, the mental health of our students has been treated as a secondary need – if even that much. The truth is, the mental health of our young students is vital to them growing, learning and becoming successful adults. This pandemic has only magnified the need to put our students’ mental wellness at the front of the line.”

“HB 100 is nothing short of a game changer. Our educators often express the need for added support professionals in our schools, without them our children’s mental health is often left unaddressed.  In the classroom this translates to difficulty learning and focusing on the lesson at hand, difficulty building meaningful relationships, and failing to develop healthy behavior habits and coping skills” Delaware State Education Association President Stephanie Ingram added. “Teachers and other educators have difficulty meeting the needs of many children outside of a comforting shoulder to lean on or a supportive conversation. Sometimes that is enough…but sometimes it isn’t. The positions outlined in this legislation bring unique talents, experiences, and professional expertise that not only support children’s mental health and academic success, but also support their families and can provide guidance in this area for all staff.”

The bill goes to the State Senate for consideration.

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