Lack of psychologists calls for action

At East, we have two school psychologists named Sarah Shaw, and Dr. Kimberly Rausch.  Although they do a wonderful job, they are the only school psychologists working at East. According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), for every 500-700 students there should be one school psychologist. There are 1463 students assigned to East which is just over the amount a school psychologist should be able to manage, yet there are still only the two psychologists managing all 1463 students.

This is important because students spend most of their day at school. School psychologists are also able to help parents of students as well. In fact many school psychologists are those who go to many different schools at once. If a school psychologist is working between two schools who exceed the required number, they are overworked and will not have time to visit with the students that may need them. Even if teachers needed to see and talk to the psychologist, there would not be enough time to see them. A school psychologist is thoroughly and extensively trained to support students and teachers. School psychologists are sent to many different seminars a year and are thoroughly trained in cognitive-behavioral evidence interventions. This creates a safe and healthy environment them to be able to help change the mindset of a student from a negative mindset to a positive mindset.

Shaw and many other school psychologists may not be able to tend to students as their caseload is severely overloaded. Most shortages around the nation are mostly due to budget shortages. Nationwide the average salary for a school psychologist is $77,430, according to the NASP, and public schools all across America are at a shortage of school psychologists ranging from 35,000 and 63,000 short. For our nation’s school system to meet the NASP’s requirements a year, it would cost between $2.3 billion to $4.9 billion. That may seem like a lot of money however, the NASP says that it would only be raised the education funding in America by .45% to .8%. Not all the issues are coming from the budget shortages, but there are also a low amount of people wanting to be a school psychologist. According to the American Psychology Association, these shortages cause more stress on the teachers when there are not enough psychologists because they feel pressure to perform a job they are not trained to do. This shortage creates stress on students, teachers, and the psychologists.

However it is tough to have a clear, concise solution. Raising funds for all of America is just not reasonable, just like making students go into school psychology is unrealistic. Something that can help is raising awareness for not only this shortage, but to show that mental health is important. Mental health greatly affects how students can perform at school which is why a school psychologist is necessary.

However, when it comes to taking care of the physical and mental health of students, people only tend to focus on the physical side of things. In the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, there does not include anything to account for a child’s mental health. Starting a conversation can raise awareness about mental health and the lack of school psychologists to help take care of students mental health. Through raising awareness, school education boards can start to see the importance of having enough school psychologists to help everyone in the building.