Key Challenges Faced by School Psychologists Today






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Key Challenges Faced by School Psychologists Today

 

  1. Burnout
    1. Currently, the ratio of psychologists to students exceeds the recommended 1:500, so they are overworked and can’t do their job well.
    2. In some states, the ratio is more than 1:2000.
    3. All other problems psychologists face culminate in this single, overarching challenge.
  2. Overwhelming responsibilities
    1. School psychologists are experts in school systems, mental health, behavior, learning and much more.
    2. The problem is they don’t have time to showcase their skills because they have too many students to manage with no assistance.
    3. Standardized testing places a lot of stress on students to perform well, and when children can’t focus or don’t get the attention they need, their attitude suffers.
  3. Budget shortfalls
    1. When state budget cuts happen, prevention and proactive response suffers.
    2. Instead, psychologists are dealing with the aftermath of school shootings, suicides, and other tragedies that could have been prevented in the first place.
  4. Psychologist to student ratio
    1. For some, the most significant struggle is the number of students and their families needing consultation and support.
    2. Additional resources like social workers and assistants are needed.
  5. Evolving responsibilities
    1. Many psychologist responsibilities and requirements change over time, including being able to identify new learning disabilities using different methods than they initially learned in school.
      1. They use less cognitive testing now than they used to as learning disabilities and how they are diagnosed continues to change.
    2. Additional training is needed in these cases, adding to the already overflowing workload.
  6. Advances in technology
    1. Kids are more tech-savvy. The instances of cyberbullying have increased over time, requiring more attention from school psychologists.
    2. Psychologists have had to develop cyber etiquette training and consultation methods involving safety with electronics and making good choices when using the internet.
  7. Lack of mental health screening tools
    1. Some school psychologists don’t have access to the tools they need to detect mental health problems.
    2. This leads to a lack of prevention.
  8. Increased skepticism
    1. People seem to be increasingly skeptical of scientific findings despite the fact that we have seen incredible scientific breakthroughs.
    2. Parents, students, policymakers, and other practitioners don’t give school psychologists the respect they need to implement life-changing and school-protecting measures.
    3. “Opinion and hypothesis” are taken as fact in today’s society. It doesn’t matter whether it’s true, it matters whether you believe it’s true.
  9. Identifying best practices
    1. As new learning disabilities develop and detection procedures change, it becomes increasingly difficult to implement best practices or to equip teachers with the knowledge they need to create engaging and productive classrooms.
  10. Access to affordable and effective care
    1. The ratio of mentally healthy students to mentally unhealthy students across majority and minority populations is about the same, but access to care differs widely.
    2. Psychologists have to deal with a widening gap in wealthy and poor families.
    3. Many students deal with a lack of resources at home to do their homework, while others struggle with safety just getting to school in the morning.
    4. Child poverty is on the rise.
  11. A great need
    1. There has never been a greater need for school psychologists. The pressure mounts to do everything they can to protect students with limited resources.

 

 

  1. http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/squeeze.aspx
  2. https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2015/01/05/school-psychologist-of-the-year-on-the-changing-role-of-mental-health-services/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153772/
  4. http://www.naspcenter.org/blueprint/FinalBlueprintInteriors.pdf