Could More Mental Health Counseling Improve School Safety?

Could More Mental Health Counseling Improve School Safety?


The school shooting in Florida earlier this year caused a new round of discussions about gun safety, although Republicans in the General Assembly say they would rather talk about other ways to make schools safer.

One of those ways is to look at mental health in the classroom.

Virginia schools need more mental health counselors. That is one of the conclusions of a select committee assembled in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

“School safety is more than just the shootings like at Parkland,” says Delegate Mike Mullin, a Democrat from Newport News and a member of the committee. “It’s the day-to-day bullying that affects and destroys young lives and emotions. A lot of that could be caught much more early on, and our schools could only get safer because of it.”

One way to accomplish this goal is to lift a cap on support staff in Virginia schools, a recession-era restriction that was created at a time when people were concerned that teachers were being crowded out by the growing ranks of support staff.

Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox says mental health counselors should also be able to focus on counseling instead of administrative duties. “So maybe one of the areas where we need to do more with school counselors is to free them up to do what that job is. Some of them do a lot of school testing, and they do other things,” Cox says.

The superintendent of New Kent County Public Schools, for example, says his mental health counselors spend almost half of their time on logistical duties, like facilitating standardized tests.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.


  1. Good article! We definitely need more counselor type people in schools. When my children were teenagers they both struggled with social issues like being bullied. They got more help from the school social workers than the “counselors” who had all the psych testing and logistical duties. Social workers are trained differently and in my experience are often more practical. Sometimes students just need a caring, objective listener.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t imagine being a parent today. There are so many issues, social media is a way to bully and hide. It also gives kids a false sense of friends. I tell my husband, everyone online could be anybody and the news verifies that all the time. I heard a woman on the news last week say she could only get her kids to get off their phones at dinner! What, who’s in charge here. There are many changes that need to happen with the standard school model. I don’t have the answers but big changes are needed and schools needs to not back down because one parent gets mad. I live in Plano, Texas and the school district here is highly respected but have all the same issues.
      But the next generation will look back and go what’s the problem.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And lack of parental discipline, I’m never shocked when I hear news stories about kids, boys and girls going to meet their friends from Facebook or Twitter. Scary things happen everyday. Awhile back on the news was a story about two parents fighting over if the daughter needed a cell phone! If the parents get a plan with no data, block everything they can and limit, pay attention to hours, set rules on it being for emergency only I can see. But it’s peer pressure, her friends had phones. As you can tell I would be a strict mother and set clear parameters. That worked on keeping me out of trouble. We didn’t even have pagers then!!!!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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