OLDHAM COUNTY, Ky. – In schools, a guidance counselor can often be the first line of defense for kids experiencing trauma or other forms of emotional pain.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five youth live with a mental health condition, but less than half of those kids receive needed services.
That’s something Kentucky lawmakers worked to address through the passage of Senate Bill 1, the School Safety and Resiliency Act.
“It is a requirement now that counselors need to spend 60 percent of their time with students,” Oldham County Schools director of student services Eric Davis said.
At Kenwood Station Elementary, counselor Ryan Rembold led a classroom exercise to introduce himself to a class of kindergarteners.
“If you’re going to have somebody talk to you about how they are feeling and what is going on in their life, they have to know who you are if they are going to be comfortable enough to open up to you,” Rembold said.
Counselors in the district plan to hold classroom and small group activities on topics like bullying, stress relief and coping mechanisms.
“We are trying to be proactive in getting into the classrooms in getting into the classrooms and getting small groups going so we can be ahead of the game instead of just reacting when a kid melts down or has something really terrible happen,” Rembold said.
The district also added a fourth mental health consultant. It’s all part of a greater effort to improve mental health services any way possible.