Lawmakers Could Strengthen Mental Health Services By Making It Easier To Help School Counselors

In her October 17 front page commentary “Stress Point: Therapist Shortage Becomes Acute,” Meredith Goldstein noted how difficult it has become for Commonwealth people to find a therapist. As a school counselor who regularly identifies therapists for young people, I witness the effects of this availability crisis every day. Finding providers for children and adolescents has become almost impossible in a world where the availability of effective help depends on insurance coverage. Our current pool of therapists is exhausted, overworked and unable to meet the inordinate and continuous demand for new referrals. The next pandemic is the impending mental health impact of this neglect, which we will feel for years to come. Look no further than the recent fights at Lawrence High School for evidence of young people under acute stress.

This is a human supply chain problem, where the shortage is that of skilled professionals who are empowered to act. A bill under consideration at the State House Increase the number of qualified providers free of charge by expanding licensing options for school counselors. School counselors have the training, capacity and experience to provide effective assistance. The joint committee on consumer protection and licensing must act quickly to get the bill to the plenary assembly for a vote. Let the Speaker of the House of the committee know that you are in favor of increasing the availability of mental health services for young people.

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About Evelyn C. Heim

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