Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15-34 and half of all lifetime mental illnesses are identified by age 14. Most students do not receive the mental health services they need due to stigma and lack of access to services and of those who do get help, most do so only in school. The increase in economically disadvantaged students, English Learners, and students needing more intensive special education services has increased the work load for mental health teams.
School Counselor’s role has expanded over the past decade. They collaborate with teachers and other support staff to provide social emotional support, career planning guidance beginning in Kindergarten, and help students develop academic achievement strategies.
School Psychologists often serve several schools. They collaborate with the School Counselor to formulate individualized intervention plans for students who need comprehensive mental health services.
School Social Workers address social issues that affect a child’s development and education and create a vital link between schools, home and community services and resources.
Virginia PTA urges the General Assembly to provide students with access to ‘Unified Mental Health Teams’ at nationally recommended ratios
- School Counselor: 1:250 (Virginia Funds: 1:455 (ES) – 1:325 (HS))
- School Psychologist: 1:500-700 (Virginia: No Standard)
- School Social Worker: 1:250 (Virginia: No Standard)
- Registered School Nurse: 1 per school (Virginia: 1:600 students)
VIRGINIA PTA IMPACT
VIrginia PTA has successfully advocated to increase the number of school counselors in Virginia’s Schools. Over the past several years the ratio of school counselors to students has been reduced from 1 counselor to 455 students to 1 counselor for every 325 students. Additionally legislation passed in the 2021 General Assembly Session established a ratio of three specialized student support personnel per 1,000 students for school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and other licensed health and behavioral positions.
- PTA Healthy Mind Resources for Families & PTAs
- PTA Social Media & Digital Wellness for Families & PTAs
- Virginia PTA Advocacy Afternoon: Mental Health & Suicide Prevention During COVID-19
- Virginia PTA Advocacy Afternoon: Trauma Informed Care
- VDOE Mental Health in School Learning Modules
PTA POSITIONS & POLICY LETTERS
- Virginia PTA Resolution: Mental Health Return to Learn Safety Net
- National PTA Resolution: Mental Health Programs & Services
- National PTA Position: Trauma Informed Care Position Statement
- National PTA Position: Safe & Supportive Schools
- I am Worried about my Child. Where do I Start? (SPTS)
- When Someone is At Risk (AFSP)
- Talking to Your Kids about Suicide (SPTS)
- Find a Mental Health Professional (AFSP)
- Preventing Youth Suicide: Tips for Parents and Educators (NASP)
- What Every Parent Should Know About Preventing Youth Suicide
- Lock and Talk Information sheet || Lock and Talk website
- Ways to Promote Resiliance During COVID-19
- Trauma Informed Teaching-Parenting in On-line learning
- Supporting Children During Coronavirus
MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATIONS
- NAMI Virginia
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- Mental Health America of Virginia
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Child Mind Institute
- If you or someone you know is a danger to themselves or others, please call 911
- Call ‘998’, the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. When people call, text, or chat 988, they will be connected to trained counselors that are part of the existing Lifeline network. These trained counselors will listen, understand how their problems are affecting them, provide support, and connect them to resources if necessary.
- Contact the emergency/crisis services number for your local community services board
QUESTIONS: Email Vice President of Advocacy