by James C. Sherlock
Rebecca Aman, a member of the Newport News School Board, is frustrated. She told me in an interview that:
Without sufficient discipline and access to clinical mental health services, behavioral intervention does not work to make schools safer and healthier.
She believes that Newport News schools need to improve both discipline and the effectiveness of behavioral interventions.
She is absolutely right.
But school-based mental health services offer different, very complex and rapidly changing challenges.
The profession of psychology has recognized that the one-on-one clinical treatment model is permanently out of reach for the broad communities needing assistance because the supply of qualified professionals cannot now and will never meet the demand.
So the delivery model is in the midst of profound change.
Three key changes being pursued are
- a far bigger emphasis on prevention, much of it to be delivered by school staff;
- better diagnosis; and
- “school based” (their term) group treatments.
Which raises at least three questions:
- Are the pediatric mental health delivery models changing so much that the schools are “shooting behind the rabbit” in the hunt for more services?
- What does the profession of psychology mean when it describes massively expanded “school-based” services? The schools and parents better find out.
- Should schools even be in the hunt for more in-school services? I say no. They are already trying to do too much.