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Lima, OH: Job of modern 'guidance counselor': "mental health professional"

Mar 16, 2019, LimaOhio.com: Changing role of school counselors https://www.limaohio.com/top-stories/346601/changing-role-of-school-counselors It wasn’t that long ago when the job of a guidance counselor consisted mainly of preparing students for what they would be doing after high school. In many school districts, the term “guidance counselor” is outdated, with schools now preferring the term “school counselor.”… Adding social workers The School Social Work Association of America partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union on a newly released report examining school discipline and personnel data collected by the U.S. Department of Education from schools across the country. Among the study’s conclusion was “the need to prioritize local, state and federal funding on hiring more school mental health professionals, including school social workers.” … The report notes “10 million students attend schools that do not have the benefit of a School Social Worker, and 14 million attend a school where there are no school mental health professionals.” The report states “90 percent of schools fail to meet SSWAA’s recommended staffing ratios.”… Asking for help Wapakoneta school superintendent Aaron Rex recognizes the need to screen students for mental and emotional problems. “Fifteen, 20 years ago, we didn’t have the social media aspect, and we weren’t trying to identify the next student who could be that person to threaten the school, but I actually think that’s the responsibility of everybody now,” Rex said. Wapakoneta voters will be asked to approve a 1 mill additional levy which would raise $400,000 to deal with student’s mental health needs and beef up school security. “We, as a school district, are looking to pass a levy to deal with more mental health issues,” Rex said. “We’re going to add another mental health counselor. We’re also going to add a class at the middle school that teaches kids about life skills and mental health and things like that that we think are important. We only have one school resource officer, so we’re going to add three more, one in each building.” Rex says they are being vigilant in identifying students with mental health issues before something happens. … Dealing with the mental health of students is becoming an ever-increasing part of the job of a school counselor. It’s about 50-50 according to Rex. … “Their job is to counsel kids and deal with some of that mental health stuff, but that’s become such a big part that they don’t have all of the time that they need to get kids on the right career path or helping them find what college that they want to go to or making sure that they can build the schedule that they want to be successful,” Rex said. Switch to social workers Some schools, such as Allen East schools, have gone strictly to employing social workers, giving school districts another tool in helping students deal with social/emotional issues. Heather Koontz and Amy Bradley are both social workers at Allen East…. Social development issues Mark Koch has been in education for 28 years and has been a middle school counselor for Wapakoneta schools for the past 18 years. “We’ve turned into more mental health counselors,” Koch said. “We always had some one-on-one consultations that we did with kids in small group-type settings, classroom presentations in the elementary and in middle school. Those are things we do on a regular basis, however I personally have seen a shift in doing more of the mental health side of things and working with homes on a hand-to-hand basis with parents, almost to the point, where I want to say, counseling (the parents) to some extent.” Renee Miller, with Glandorf Elementary School, has been a counselor for the past 13 years and has also seen the job change. “When I first started, I would go in and work with kids on just academic skills overall, and we would do test prep and different things like that,” she said. “Now it seems like it’s changed a lot more to individualized counseling, …