TX Education Panel Calls for $50 Mil for Mental Health
Texas lawmakers and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) have both voiced recent support to increase funds for School Safety initiatives. The process began with reviewing current school safety measures across the state to compare and contrast local methods with new strategies and best practices in the field.
Their report showed, while school campuses are generally safe, focusing on preventative strategies will keep students from going down a path of violence is the best long-term strategy.
The TEA is requesting $54 Million to enhance student safety – both physically and mentally. According to the TEA, the funds will be used to “support mental health services, positive school culture, facilities safety, and emergency response coordination,” creating more jobs for mental health professionals, social workers, and counselors. As it was found, Texas would have to double the number of mental health professionals currently employed to meet the American Counseling Association’s recommended student to staff ratios.
Consider these current Texas statistics:
- The ratio of students to counselors was 441 to 1 (recommended: 250 to 1)
- The ratio of students to licensed specialists in school psychology was 2,890 to 1 (recommended: 1,000 to 1)
- The ratio of students to social workers was 7,548 to 1 (recommended: 400 to 1)
According to the Committee’s report, “1 in 10 children have a mental health issue serious enough to impair school or home functioning, and in 2017, 12 percent of High school students in Texas attempted suicide.”
A similar trend was noted at Palo Alto College’s (PAC) 1st Annual Advocacy Symposium. Rhonda O’cana, a personal counselor at PAC shared data from their recent Health Minds Study, where 14% of respondents reported suicide ideation and 37% reported needing help for emotional and mental health concerns such as feeling blue, sad, anxious, and nervous. Increasing the number of mental health professionals on campuses improves access to services that may identify mental health issues in youth. In addition, ensuring an adequate amount of staff and resources are available could reduce school violence and enhance health, productivity, and success.