ALBANY. N.Y. (NEWS10) — Focus on school building security has been paramount following mass shooting incidents like the Texas Elementary school tragedy. The attention is also shifting to the mental health resources available throughout school districts.
For a small district, Hadley-Luzerne School district is fortunate when it comes to their mental health resources and staffing. Superintendent Beecher Baker said, “We have four different counselors in our district. If you look per capita, that’s more than most districts would have and we are relatively small.”
Coming out of COVID, Superintendent Baker saw the need for even more support. “We have seen got the gamut of bullying-related type issues, we have family-related issues, we have self issues and self-awareness, depression things of that nature,” explained Beecher.
His district isn’t alone. Beecher added “I’m seeing more social workers being hired more. We certainly weren’t the only ones. It’s happening everywhere in my conversations with other superintendents.”
“I know schools who want to hire social workers. They’ve been talking about it, but there is no one out there,” explained Glenn Liebman, with NYS Mental Health Association.
Hiring is one hurdle, as the nation copes with the Texas tragedy and tries to understand what drove someone to horrific levels of violence. “Obviously someone doing something this abhorrent is unwell, but to say it’s mental health that’s an easy scapegoat there are so many other mitigating factors. Trauma history, history of violence,” Liebman said.
“The major piece right now, the echo chamber of hatred out there. That’s a lot of what’s going on in social media,” Liebman said.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) we put out a memo basically saying, you see something you say something,” Beecher said. “Sometimes it’s through writing children make, things they may say. Everything needs to be followed up on that’s the key.
New York’s Mental Health Association is also working on legislation to help educate teachers on what to look for and how to react. You can find more resources on New York’s Mental Health Association’s website.