Celebrating the Importance of School Counselors in Youth Mental Health

Lauren Cikara
Lauren Cikara

This week we celebrate National School Counseling Week by acknowledging the impact that school counselors and other mental health professionals make in K-12 schools. They are the people students go to for help with academic planning, healthy mindsets, and behaviors. School counselors work to maximize student success and are vital to school leadership teams to help ensure student mental health needs are being met.

 The American School Counselor Association has announced that the theme for this year’s National School Counseling Week is  School Counseling: Better Together and we couldn’t agree more. When students have supportive school counselors, they can help change the conversation about mental health in their schools. Many Active Minds chapter advisors themselves are school counselors and are key champions of chapter leaders creating mental health programs and working with students to help advocate for more resources in their schools. School counselors are oftentimes the first person students go to for mental health support, either for themselves or others around them, and they are champions of promoting access and equity for all students.

 Since 2020, schools have had to navigate enormous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Youth mental health has been in the spotlight and many schools don’t have enough counselors or mental health professionals to support student needs. Currently, the national ratio of student-to-school counselors is 424:1 and the American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-school counselor ratio of 250:1. Many schools are using federal funding to hire more staff and increase resources to help address this need. We are encouraged by this investment and hope that schools include youth in this process. 

Mental health is something students want to talk about. When schools prioritize space and time to talk about mental health and make the investment to ensure there is a dedicated counselor available, there is a clear message being sent: your mental health matters, you matter.  Thank you to all of the school counselors and mental health professionals who work tirelessly to help ensure youth have the tools and space they need to be the best and healthiest versions of themselves!