Letter to the Principal
As educators, community members, and/or parents we all play a role in disrupting problematic school practices. In this final assignment you will identify one problematic practice in education and, (1) describe the problem (historical context), (2) explain why it is harmful to students, and (3) offer solutions. The assignment will be written in the form of a letter to a school principal or school board. You must use at least 3 reputable sources, such as, academic articles, books, news articles, and/or data, to support your argument. Also, please refer to the rubric to earn full points for the assignment.
Top, right: First and Last name
First line: Dear Principal or Dear School Board
Font: 12 point
Margins: 1” all sides
Inadequate Mental Health Professionals
Dear School Board,
The mental health and wellbeing of students is essential in facilitating their learning and overall school performance. As a result, parents, community members, and educators have a responsibility to ensure that all children regardless of their color or income status have access to mental health services. However, recent studies have shown that most schools, especially, those in districts serving low income students of color have inadequate mental health professionals to cater for their needs (Hammond, 2013). That is to say, nearly 80 percent of students in these schools have little or no access to mental care or services. Furthermore, the ratio of mental health professionals and the number of students in the low income areas is inappropriate to mitigate the problem (Ross, Powell, & Elias, 2015). For instance, according to the federal data in most states there is only one psychologist for every 1, 526 students in majority of the low income schools serving students of color (Gamble & Lambros, 2014). This ratio is below the minimum recommended standard which is about 500 students per psychologist depending on their mental needs and the comprehensiveness of the services being provided in the school (Ross, Powell, & Elias, 2015). In this regard, the problem needs to be addressed effectively to improve the mental health and overall performance of the students in the low income areas.
- Mental Disorders
There are various implications that are commonly associated with poor mental health, particularly, among children. For instance, research has pointed out that poor mental health is among the leading causes of trauma and depression among children (McLeod & Shanahan, 2013). In this regard, about 1.9 million children between the ages of 3-17 years have been diagnosed with depression in the US. Similarly, 4.5 million children between this ages have a diagnosed behavior problem associated with either trauma or depression (Gamble & Lambros, 2014). Most of these children have been reported to come from poor communities or low income areas across the country (McLeod & Shanahan, 2013). That is to say, students from poor or low income families are more prone to mental illnesses due to their adverse experiences including violence, housing instability, and food insecurity, just to mention a few.
- Increased Suicide Rates
The rate of suicide among school going children has increased significantly over the years. In this case, studies have shown that the number of suicide cases in children between 10-17 years increased by 70 percent between 2006 and 2017 in America (Ross et al., 2019). Similarly, suicide is considered to be the third leading cause of death after road accidents and homicide among young adults in the country. Moreover, a recent research indicated that the rate of suicide among female students in the U.S seems to be on the rise compared to previous years (McLeod & Shanahan, 2013).Most of these cases have been associated with poor mental health, drug abuse, and depression. As a result, parents and teachers should be on the look out to identify and help students with mental health problems and those at a higher risk of committing suicide to minimize these incidents.
- Poor School Performance
Poor mental health is also among the major causes of poor performance in school going children. That is to say, children with mental disorders such as depression, trauma, and anxiety tend to perform poorly in class compared to their normal counterparts. This is because most of them find it difficult to concentrate in class, complete assignments, and compete with other students (Hammond, 2013). Similarly, such children miss classes more often due to illnesses related to their mental health or other social problems. In this regard, a recent study revealed that high school students who test positive for psychological problems have a three times higher chances of missing classes compared to those with no mental problems (Gamble& Lambros, 2014). Moreover, these learners usually face social challenges because they are not able to relate well with their peers, as well as, teachers which in turn impacts negatively on their overall school performance. As a result, most of these high school pupils with mental challenges drop out of school in the long run or are unable to join college/ university due to poor grades.
There are a number of ways in which the mental health issue, particularly, in low income districts serving students of color can be addressed. For example, the schools can increase the number of mental health providers to the national recommended standards so as to address the needs of the students efficiently (Ross et al., 2019). They can also partner with county agencies and community-based organizations that offer mental health services to bridge the existing gap. Similarly, the affected schools should include mental health education in their curriculum and make it a priority in order to minimize stigmatization and encourage ailing students to seek help whenever necessary (Hammond, 2013). Lastly, schools should utilize mental health screening tools and services to identify pupils with mental health disorders early and provide them with timely treatment. In this case, the schools in question should work together with the government and other policy makers, as well as, seek funding to employ more mental health professionals and implement the recommended changes as soon as possible, so as to mitigate the existing problem (Gamble & Lambros, 2014). In other words, addressing the issue on time will help many sick students who are currently not able to access mental health services thus enhancing their wellbeing and overall school performance.
In conclusion, inadequate mental health professionals in low income school districts serving students of color is currently a major problem that needs to be resolved with immediate effect. Most of the schools in question have limited mental health professionals who are unable to meet the rising demands of the students. As a result, many students with mental health problems are unable to access timely treatment thus leading to negative health outcomes, poor school performance, and increased suicide rates, among other negative implications. Examples of ways in which the issue can be resolved include employing more mental health professionals; partnering with county agencies and community-based organizations that offer mental health services; promoting mental health education, and making use of health screening services, just to mention a few. In this case, policy makers and the affected schools should come together and look for efficient approaches to mitigate the problem.
Berliner, D. (2013). Effects of inequality and poverty vs. teachers and schooling on America’s youth. Teachers College Record, 115(12), 1-26.
Gamble, B. E., & Lambros, K. M. (2014). Provider Perspectives on School-Based Mental Health for Urban Minority Youth: Access and Services. Journal of Urban Learning, Teaching, and Research, 10, 25-38.
Hammond, L. (2013). Inequality and school resources. Closing the opportunity gap: What America must do to give every child an even chance, 77.
McLeod, J. D., & Shanahan, M. J. (2013). Poverty, parenting, and children’s mental health. American sociological review, 351-366.
Ross, M. R., Powell, S. R., & Elias, M. J. (2019). New roles for school psychologists: Addressing the social and emotional learning needs of students. School Psychology Review, 31(1), 43-53.