- District 15
This Act establishes a mental health services unit for Delaware elementary schools. The unit is at a ratio of 250 full-time equivalent students grades K-5 for a full-time school counselor, school social worker, or licensed clinical social worker. Additionally a unit ratio of 700 full time equivalent students for grades K-5 for employment of a full-time school psychologist. This Act defines “mental health services” as prevention, response, and coordination services delivered to students in elementary schools. Mental Health disorders are the most common health problem for school aged youth. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one in five youth are affected by a mental health disorder. Additionally, 50% of lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14. Untreated mental illness leads to negative outcomes including increased risk of dropout, homelessness, substance abuse, other chronic illnesses, incarceration, and possibly suicide. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, ninety percent of people who have taken their own life have had an underlying mental health condition, and suicides are on the rise. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicides are now the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-14. Delaware schools need trained and experienced mental health professionals to provide prevention and support programs and services to students. Currently, as reported by Delaware school districts, 86% of elementary schools do not employ a school social worker, and ratios of students to school counselors and school psychologists far exceed national best practices. This bill will lower ratios and increase access to mental health services for elementary school students.
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