Can public schools and their administrators, teachers, and staff adequately manage the growing number and variety of student needs with current resources? James J. VanSciver, author of Speaking Out in the January/February issue of Principal, presents the case that schools must add mental health practitioners to school staffs and provide increased support for teachers and principals in the face a “perfect storm” of mental, behavioral, and physical health challenges among students.

VanSciver writes: “Students now come to school with such issues as mood disorders, bipolar symptoms, select mute, reactions to lead paint poisoning, ADHD, generalized anxiety, post traumatic stress, separation anxiety, emotional disabilities, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Tourette syndrome, depression, learning disabilities, legal blindness, and juvenile absence epilepsy, to name a few. Some of these students receive special education services; some don’t. Some get medication; some don’t. Some receive medication support but don’t take their medication. They all arrive at school each day.”

Teachers, finding themselves unable to cope with the ever-increasing demand for higher achievement and the “never-ending flow” of students with profound needs, may join an increasing number of their colleagues in leaving the profession. To ensure that effective classroom instruction does not deteriorate and to meet the needs of the neediest students, as well as support teachers and principals, schools must be staffed with behavior therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, VanSciver argues.

Do you agree that more support is needed? Is this possible in today’s economic environment?

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