State Comptroller audit finds ‘growing mental health crisis’ in schools

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli Monday released some eye-opening statistics on mental health resources in schools.

DiNapoli’s audit found there is a "growing mental health crisis" in schools across the state whole mental health teams are understaffed.

He found that there are 19 school districts across the state that don’t have mental health staff at all, and that 95% of districts don’t meet the recommended ratio of one social worker for every 250 students, while two-thirds don’t meet the recommended ratio of one school counselor for every 250 students and half don’t have one school psychologist per every 500 students.

Though, the audit does note that state law does not require school districts to provide in-school mental health services to most students. New York does require that school districts provide students with mental health education.

DiNapoli recommended that the New York State Education Department explore partnering with state and local entities to determine if they should maintain certain staffing levels for mental health professionals and if they should develop a mechanism to determine if school districts are providing mental health education as required by law.

This comes after an incident at Red Jacket High School in Shortsville earlier this month demonstrated the importance of mental health in schools. A staff member was able to disarm a student who brought a loaded gun with an extra magazine to school on April 1. The school then offered help to students who were traumatized by the event.

As of last Monday, that student was still detained, but not yet charged by the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office.