Elma, NY: Plans for more school counselors; 1 in 5 kids have mental health problems

Dec 3, 2017, WGRA-TV, Elma, NY: Anxiety Counseling Program for Local Students That's why more Western New York schools like those in the Iroquois School District are now bringing in counselors to help their students deal with anxiety. Iroquois High School social worker Tana Yount remembers it happening in September. "The parent called and said I'm here in the parking lot but he won't get out of the car and I don't know what to do," Yount said. That's an example of what school administrators, teachers, and counselors fear is a growing trend. That is students suffering from the sometimes incapacitating effects of anxiety. … And now studies also cite one in five children in the U.S. have mental health needs, including severe anxiety. Others who directly observe in the hallways and classrooms feel it may be worse and that girls and boys both try to hide it. "I think that out of every two kids walking down that hall, one of those kids is struggling with anxiety," school social worker Colleen Edwards said. … That's why the Iroquois District, which has also picked up the use of therapy dogs in school, has now joined other districts in bringing a Gateway Longview mental health counselor into the school one day a week. They provide an hour long counseling session for referred students in need. Costs are covered by the parents' private health insurance or other arrangements are made with direct parental involvement. … We also asked Field if she was seeing even younger children in elementary schools who are affected by anxiety. She replied, "Absolutely. Most people don't realize that it presents differently in younger children – anxiety does. But I think because it's become more of a conversation. I think some of these teachers and social workers are becoming aware of these cues and referring the kids at a younger age because the earlier we can intervene the more effective it is." The Iroquois School District hopes to expand the program to provide counselors for all their schools in the future. Gateway Longview runs counseling programs for students with anxiety issues in about 30 schools in Western New York. That includes the Buffalo Public Schools and Sweet Home.