Mental Health Services in Schools

By Brinda Narayan-Wold, Elementary School Counselor from Eugene, OR

I have been an Elementary Counselor for 9 years. I am committed to helping young children be the best they can be, and for me, that means the elementary school counseling profession.

My school has high economic needs. It is a Title 1 School with 85% of the students on free lunch. Kids come to school hungry. They are dealing with family addictions and mental health challenges; they live in homes infested with black mold; and some are homeless.My job is to support over 360 students and their families. As elementary educators we have to teach fundamental skills that will allow students to be successful in Middle and High School.

When children are hungry, scared or struggling with adverse circumstances they cannot give their best to learning math, reading, or writing. Yet there is an incredible lack of supports. We have to practice extraordinary creativity in order to even attempt to fill the basic needs of our students. We know how to do it, we just need some help to give these kids the education they deserve.

Schools really need mental health services so kids can learn. My school has many students with mental health challenges, way beyond our staff’s capacity to support them on a daily basis. Services fill-up extremely quickly and are available to too few. Many parents want access, but can’t receive services.

Do I wish that we had more funding for more counselors and mental health services here in our district — YES! Absolutely!

Brinda Narayan-Wold is an elementary school counselor in Eugene, OR.

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