School Climate & Safety Letter to the Editor

Trained Experts Needed For Mental-Health Services

February 19, 2013 1 min read

To the Editor:

Laura C. Murray’s Commentary (“Mental Health Is Part of the School Safety Equation,” Jan. 30, 2013) correctly highlights the importance of school mental-health services to school safety. Teachers do indeed play a critical role in creating a safe, welcoming environment where students can thrive, and they are essential to providing the first-tier wellness-promotion and prevention strategies Ms. Murray outlines.

However, while probably not Ms. Murray’s intention, the implication is that teachers can become synonymous with school mental-health services. This would be unrealistic and ineffective, and it warrants clarification.

School mental-health services should be provided by trained school mental-health professionals: school psychologists, counselors, and social workers.

Not only do these professionals already have the skills to provide evaluations, counseling, threat assessment, and case management, they can also provide ongoing teacher training and consultation across the spectrum of mental-health issues.

They are trained to identify and “spearhead” the mental-health programs most appropriate for their particular school community. And they are the essential bridge between the tiers of supports from wellness promotion to intensive interventions that require collaboration with private clinicians.

Better teacher training on social-emotional development and the signs and symptoms of children struggling with mental-health problems is long overdue, but the math teacher can never assess a student for depression or recommend interventions.

The whole school system Ms. Murray mentions must provide both teachers and students access to a school mental-health professional who can work with individuals over time and integrate interventions with the teaching and learning process. In many districts, this will require increasing these personnel.

Given the urgency of the issues involved, our national dialogue needs to be as accurate and succinct as possible. Our focus needs to be on effective, sustainable approaches that enable teachers, administrators, and school mental-health professionals to work together to support the mental wellness, safety, and successful learning of our students.

Amy Smith


National Association of School Psychologists

Bethesda, Md.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 20, 2013 edition of Education Week as Trained Experts Needed For Mental-Health Services


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online
School & District Management Webinar What's Ahead for Hybrid Learning: Putting Best Practices in Motion
It’s safe to say hybrid learning—a mix of in-person and remote instruction that evolved quickly during the pandemic—is probably here to stay in K-12 education to some extent. That is the case even though increasing

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety What the Research Says Teens Are Driving COVID-19 Surges. Can Schools Counteract That?
Teenagers and young adults are now driving COVID-19 cases in some states, and experts say schools may be critical in preventing outbreaks.
4 min read
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Climate & Safety Opinion Empowering Teachers and Parents to Speak Up on School Safety
Rick Hess shares practical suggestions from Max Eden on how to ensure school discipline reforms are indeed keeping students and staff safe.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Climate & Safety Audio Driving the School Bus, Waiting for a Vaccine
A veteran bus driver holds out hope he won't get COVID-19 while awaiting his first vaccination.
3 min read
Eric Griffith, 55, poses for a portrait in front of a school bus in Jacksonville, Fla. on Thursday, March 18, 2021. Griffith, who has been a school bus driver for 20 years, delivered meals and educational materials during the first couple months of the coronavirus pandemic when schools shifted to remote learning.
Eric Griffith has been a bus driver for Duval County schools in Jacksonville, Fla., for 20 years. He's been driving students all year and hopes to get his coronavirus vaccine soon.
Charlotte Kesl for Education Week
School Climate & Safety Interactive School Shootings This Year: How Many and Where
Education Week is tracking shootings in K-12 schools in 2021. See the number of incidents and where they occurred in our map and data table.
3 min read
Sign indicating school zone.