Schools struggle to staff up for youth mental health crisis

News Summary

  • School districts only planned to spend about 2% of the largest round of federal COVID aid on mental health hiring, according to the group’s analysis of more than 5,000 district spending plans.One bright spot in the school mental health landscape, though, is the increase in social workers.
  • But I also deserve care and support, too.”A spokesperson for Cobb County Public Schools said school counselor positions are based on a state funding formula, and the district strongly supports more funding.The Chalkbeat analysis is based on school staffing and vacancy data obtained through open records requests.
  • Districts included in the analysis, which serve a combined 3 million students, started the year with nearly 1,000 unfilled mental health positions.Hiring challenges are largely to blame, but some school systems have invested relief money in other priorities.
  • Among 18 of the country’s largest school districts, 12 started this school year with fewer counselors or psychologists than they had in fall 2019, according to an analysis by Chalkbeat.
  • The district sought to hire staff to address increased student needs such as anxiety, depression and struggles with conflict management, but still had 30 vacant psychologist positions, a district official said this month.Even before the pandemic, some schools struggled to find psychologists.
  • Chicago, for example, added 32 school psychologist positions since fall 2019 but ended up with just one additional psychologist on staff this fall.
By PATRICK WALL and KALYN BELSHA of Chalkbeat and ANNIE MA of The Associated PressMira Ugwuadu felt anxious and depressed when she returned to her high school in Cobb County, Georgia, last fall aft [+9185 chars]