The Future of Mental Health in Minnesota Schools

(ABC 6 News) — This year, Minnesota lawmakers are focusing their efforts on mental health resources in schools. Already this year a bill has been introduced that would require all Minnesota Schools to have a counselor on staff.

Bonner Elementary School Counselor Emily Dierling says the school counselor plays a vital role for students.

“If we can teach the skills and give them the prevention that they need now there is less need for resources and less need for intervention in the future,” she said.

Part of her work includes classroom counseling lessons.

The Future of Mental Health in Minnesota Schools

“Which is a big prevention piece,” she said.

In these lessons, she teaches soft skills like emotion management, conflict resolution, and friendship skills.

She works with school Social Worker Courtney Fakler to do small group sessions and one-on-one counseling for students struggling with mental health issues.

“I am the bridge that bridges our students, family, and community altogether. I help make sure everybody has access to the resources that they need,” said Fakler.

They say this type of mental health support is crucial for young students, and Minnesota lawmakers seem to agree.

In addition to the bill that would require all Minnesota schools to have a counselor on staff, bills have been introduced this year that would require suicide prevention training and more mental health instruction.

While Dierling says there is great support in her district, she says there is still room for even more services.

“Having more access to counselors and therapists and being able to link them with resources within the community hand in hand if we had more time and more support,” she said.

Fakler hopes to see more early intervention work with students even younger than Kindergarten.

“And the funding to go with it. Because I think that having the availability to say yes we want this person and then putting the burden on the district to say now fund it—what do we take away from other students? That’s not what we want. We want our students to be able to have all of the opportunities that they can and then funding to go with those opportunities,” she said.

February 14, 2019  09:30 PM
ABC 6 News