ROCHESTER, Minn. - Minnesota legislators are identifying key issues they'd like to prioritize this legislative session. State Senator Carla Nelson released this statement saying, in part, "In visiting with school counselors in our community, their top concern was not colleg readiness, but mental health services. This session, I intend to make our schools safer through increased mental health services."
"We all care a lot about kids and our teachers are busy teaching but we have a pretty high student to support staff ratio, so being able to get that at a better level where we can provide more individual attention to students and families," says assistant director of student services at Rochester Public Schools Denise Moody. She oversees all of the behavioral and mental health services provided at RPS. She says that state funding for mental health services in schools would be a great help to herself, counselors, social workers, and mental health practitioners at RPS. Their student-to-mental health staff is currently roughly 1 staff member per 500 students, and they'd like to get that number closer to 1 to 300. "In budget cuts approximately 15 years ago, we really cut most of our elementary counselors and that's been a huge deficit to our students, so really putting that support back in place in order to be able to provide those skills early on," she adds.
Currently, there are counselors in every RPS secondary school and 4 elementary schools, a social worker in each school, and mental health practitioners and school psychiatrists work mainly in the special education department.
The Minnesota legislative session began January 8th.