School counselors play a vital role in the mental health of youth and children. According to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), they not only serve as advocates to their communities, but support their students with instruction and guidance for their social and emotional wellbeing, enhancing their mental health.
Now more than ever, students — especially those at risk — need qualified and dedicated school counselors. They need insightful adults they can trust to offer resources to help them develop healthy social-emotional responses and overcome their mental health struggles.
The Role of School Counselors in Support Students’ Mental Health
In many ways, school counselors are on the front lines of the education system along with teachers. Through regular interaction and conversation, they’re able to talk with students, listen to them share about their homework headaches, home life frustrations, and relational stresses. These are open-door opportunities for counselors to go beyond daily assignments and test scores, helping students process their feelings and progress toward adulthood while offering resources for support.
The ASCA identifies the many ways school counselors contribute to students’ mental health, such as:
- Setting learning goals and plans
- Projecting academic and career aspirations
- Discussing educational progress with teachers and parents
- Developing healthy study habits and interpersonal skills
- Exploring new counseling methods and tools based on student data, performance and conversations
- Advocating for children’s mental health through educational awareness
Advocates for Mental Health Awareness
School counselors can often be a student’s first advocate by recognizing the warning signs of mental health difficulties. They may observe changes in school performance and attendance, mood swings, increased disciplinary problems, eating disorders or substance abuse. Equipped with resources, they can recommend students to in-school or outside professionals for short-term counseling interventions and community organizations for long-term support.
At-risk kids and adolescents need educated, committed support systems around them to overcome mental health challenges. School counselors are often the leaders in the advocacy of mental health awareness for their schools, administrative staff and teachers.
The Growing Need for (and Needs of) School Counselors
Throughout the U.S., school counselors are in great demand. From continued enrollment growth at public and private schools, there is a projected 11% growth rate for counselor positions between 2020 and 2030. Although challenging, counseling careers are rewarding — and increasingly critical to student success. Parents, teachers and administrators look to them to assist students in navigating not only academically, but in their mental health and social-emotional capacities as well.
Employing school counselors does come at an expense, and yet school counselors find creative ways to fund the guidance they provide their students. From public school district resources to property tax revenues and voter-approved funds (like Children’s Services Fund), school counselors (despite being stretched thin) are able to support the mental health and social-emotional wellbeing of their students. Staying up-to-date with online counseling tools, engaged in forums and continuing their education are all part of a school counselor’s needs.
Partner Organizations Working to Support School Counselors’ Mental Health Efforts
Children’s Services Fund has worked hard to fairly distribute funds across our seven targeted service areas. One of those includes putting school counselors and school social workers in eligible schools, by funding partner organizations like Center School District, Genesis School, Raytown School District and De La Salle Education Center.
Learn more about what these organizations do to support our education systems — specifically when it comes to students’ mental health. Want to know more about Children’s Services Fund? Find links to resources, learn about the impact we’ve made, and read about our goals to help students in Jackson County, MO.