Sponsored by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), February 3–7 marks National School Counseling Week 2020. The organization launched the week-long observation to bring attention to the important work performed by counselors at schools across the country. These individuals play such a large role in helping students develop both academically and socially, ensuring that today’s students will be readily prepared for life beyond the classroom.
The American Counseling Association recommends one counselor for every 250 students, but counselors in many schools are often juggling twice as many students. This leaves school counselors overworked at a time when students are in the midst of a mental health crisis. With anxiety and depression on the rise and suicide rates increasing, school counselors are facing an uphill battle when it comes to student mental health.
How can school districts aid counselors in their efforts to support students’ physical and mental health? Districts across the country are turning to Gaggle to assist counselors as they foster students’ social and emotional well-being. Many districts opt to include their school counselors as emergency contacts for Gaggle’s student safety platform, ensuring these individuals will be immediately looped in when concerning student issues arise.
At Wichita Falls ISD in Texas, Gaggle revealed just how many students were struggling. “There were lots of disturbing topics and risky behaviors that students spoke to, and the number of interventions because of crisis situations was in the double digits,” said Superintendent Mike Kuhrt. To support the already overwhelmed counselors, the district hired a director of social emotional services and divided responsibilities between traditional counselors and those tasked with mental health in middle and high school.
And at Idaho’s Nampa School District, located in a region with the highest suicide rates in the country, counselors and teachers are being trained on student behavior and what signs to look for. “Gaggle is one of our tools,” says Kathleen Tuck, director of communications and community relations. “Once students are identified, we’ll have a variety of options to help them—we need to have a lot of different ways to identify students who need help and services to support them.”
The ASCA strives to empower school counselors with the knowledge and skills necessary to promote student success. The organization provides professional development, resources, research, and more to school counselors in order to support their efforts. Check out #NSCW2020 and #NationalSchoolCounselingWeek on social media to learn more about this celebratory week.