Importance of School Counsellors in Youth Mental Health

A recent survey of prospective college students found that 50% have changed their views on the importance of mental health support for students. Additionally, 60% of prospective students said that mental health services are a very important factor when selecting which school they will attend. Although 74% of students indicated that their opinions haven’t changed specifically because of COVID-19, the pandemic has clearly increased mental health awareness when it comes to enrollment.

How Counsellors Help Students

1. Improve student academic performance

Mental health problems can impact the academic performance and success of a college student. Student counsellors actually help students stay on the right path. This is why a lot of universities have started to invest in these types of facilities and personnel.  Poor mental health contributes to lack of motivation and problems focusing which can lead to failing grades. Campus-wide mental health resources for students to seek support could be the key to their academic success.

2. Support students mental well-being

College is already a stressful environment for students, especially. As students return to campus, there will be a wide variety of mental health concerns that can’t be solved with traditional counselling alone. Providing students, faculty, and staff with proper tools on how to manage mental and emotional well-being will help create a supportive campus culture.

3. Suicide/self-harm prevention

Self-harm and suicide is a major issue all over the world among young students. Sometimes it is the pressure of grades and other times it is the pressure of self actualization forced upon us through various outlets like social media  and the influencers living certain lifestyles. These issues can be difficult to ackle for a lot of people. Many times a depressed person would not even know the weight of their problems due to the daily distractions they are going through. This is where counsellors can help students identify the right pathway to building a better life and dealing with the pressures they feel. 

4. Increase student retention

Higher education will likely look very different in the years to come following COVID-19. According to the American Council of Education, enrollment is expected to decrease, which could greatly impact colleges and universities. Data also shows that counselling services have a positive impact on retention. As measured by student self-report, 63% of students who received counselling stated that counselling services helped them stay in school. It’s crucial for higher education to prioritise student mental health. Otherwise, schools risk decreasing graduation rates, enrollment, and academic success.

Supporting college mental health on and off campus

College students now have a greater demand for mental health resources that are accessible on and off-campus. Bringing them on campus adds a sense of convenience and makes mental health accessible.

The Role of the School Counsellor

As such, teachers, counsellors, and other school staff are among the first to notice concerning changes in behaviour that could signal a mental or behavioural health issue.

While teachers arguably spend the most time with their students, 

School counsellors allocate much of their focus to designing and implementing programs which promote academic and personal success for all of their students. These responsibilities include:

Enhancing the awareness of mental health in their schools, and aiming to remove shame and stigma

Provide external referrals, which may include short-term counselling or crisis intervention

Recognize and respond to warning signs, such as sudden changes in grades or attendance, disciplinary problems, or visible problems at home

Provide individual focus to students about issues surrounding their mental health, academic well being, and social and emotional needs

Provide resources and support for teachers, administrators, and parents 

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