'The numbers are horrifying': Texas schools have severe mental health care worker shortage

I-Team: Texas schools have severe mental health care worker shortage

NORTH TEXAS (CBSNewsTexas.com) – With the pandemic exacerbating mental health issues, the need for support for students in schools has never been greater.

A study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, found 1 in 5 kids in the U.S. needs mental health support, yet nearly 80% won't get it.

"The mental health of kids in Texas would improve if we had the number of staff to support them," said Jenna Becker, a school psychologist and president of the Texas School Psychologist Association.

Texas schools face a severe shortage in most mental health care professions, according to 2022-23 Texas Education Association school staffing data.

The National Association of School Psychologists recommends schools have 1 school psychologist for every 500 students but in Texas schools, there was 1 for every 2,600 students.

The American School Counselors Association recommends schools have 1 school counselor for every 250 students. In Texas, the ratio is 1 for every 390 students.

The ratio is even worse for social workers in schools. The School Social Work Association recommends 1 social worker for every 250 students. In Texas schools, it's 1 for every 5,200 students – 20 times the recommended ratio.

"The numbers are horrifying," said Becker.

Efforts have been made to increase the number of mental health professionals in Texas schools including awareness campaigns, new student loan repayment laws for mental health professionals, along with additional state and federal funding.

However, experts point out that money alone won't solve the shortage. Becker said the key is to get more people into these professions.

"That would be my hope that people will want to help kids and we could get more future school psychologists," she said.

To find out more about these professions and how to become one, check out these links:

Q&A: Texas schools have severe mental health care worker shortage
Read more

We and our partners use cookies to understand how you use our site, improve your experience and serve you personalized content and advertising. Read about how we use cookies in our cookie policy and how you can control them by clicking Manage Settings. By continuing to use this site, you accept these cookies.