NC Senate Republicans spoil effort to increase school psychologists

Because they've never met a bill they didn't want to hijack:

Lawmakers focused on improving school safety for months have planned to address a significant shortage of school psychologists, but none of the related bills filed by legislators look like they are going anywhere during this legislative session.

The proposal had broad support, and passed unanimously in the House, but the bill failed after the Senate tacked on a controversial and unrelated healthcare provision. Then the Senate stalled the House's attempts to resurrect the psychology provision in another bill about licensing regulation in various industries. That bill did not make it past the legislature's self-imposed deadline to send all statewide bills to the governor's desk.

That's pretty much all you need to know about how Berger and his acolytes roll. No matter how needed and necessary a piece of legislation is, if they can't use (abuse) it to get something else they want, it's no longer worth their effort. The sheer arrogance and selfishness is breathtaking. And it's not like this is a "nice to have" enhancement of our schools, it's a crisis that has deadly consequences if not addressed:

"At the state level, we are in a crisis for school psychologists," said Sara Ryan, a school psychologist in Union County Schools and a board member of the North Carolina School Psychology Association.

Across North Carolina, there are about 75 school psychologist vacancies as of the 2017-2018 school year, according to a recent state report. Many school psychologists employed in the state serve multiple schools and more than 2,000 students each. The nationally recommended ratio is one psychologist per 500 to 700 students.

Somewhere around 20% of those students are experiencing a mental health disorder of some sort, and 13% are hovering in the "critical" zone. Meaning, they are on the verge of an episode that could endanger them or somebody around them. But they are also at an age where psychological intervention can have a profound impact on not only their current condition, but their future well-being also. That's not just a theory, it's a proven fact:

Because most children spend much of their time at school, it offers an opportunity to reach many children with mental health-related prevention, resilience and early identification initiatives.

According to a recent review in Harvard Review of Psychiatry, the number of school-based mental health programs is increasing and so is the evidence that they are working, providing benefits both in short-term and the long-term.

The researchers, led by J. Michael Murphy, Ed.D., with Massachusetts General Hospital, looked at school-based mental health programs that have been implemented on a large scale and that measure specific mental health outcomes. The program they examined reached an estimated 27million students over the last decade. Research has linked these programs to such benefits as reducing anxiety, improving reading scores, reducing bullying at school, and lowering rates of substance abuse in young adulthood.

For those of you (like me) who have dealt with these issues personally, you know many of the problems listed in that last sentence coincide, sometimes *all* of them. And if not addressed properly, they can extend deep into adult life. We test for and vaccinate against deadly diseases in children as a rule, but issues with mental health are no less deadly, and it's long past time we dedicated the resources for early intervention there, too.

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