Is mental health counseling available to students in school? - News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Is mental health counseling available to students in school?

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On the heels of that deadly mass school shooting in Florida, we examine whose job is it to spot troubled students, and what school districts can do to prevent them from falling through the cracks.

As many struggle to make sense of the violence in Florida, the 19-year-old suspect is described by a public defender as deeply disturbed and emotionally broken.

Here at home, superintendents say while school districts have great counselors, they're focus is meant to be on academics, so everyone needs to speak up if they feel someone may become a threat.

Kevin Spicher, Howland Schools Superintendent, said, "We don't have the ability to have our students come down to the office and come into the school counselors office and start talking about specific things that are going on at home.  Once we know that we get to that level, we have to refer them to other services."

Districts like Howland in Trumbull County do work with professional outside agencies that can give a student a mental health or psychiatric evaluation, and they can recommend counseling if needed.

"If a child brings a gun to school, that child is likely going to be out of school and expelled for at least a year, and there will be a whole process with evaluating why that child would have ever brought a gun to school, to begin with.  So all those things are put in place to make sure we feel safe before they return," Spicher said.

School counselors do look for signs that a student may be troubled, including if a child is withdrawing from others, or not participating in school and other projects the way they used to.

But the bottom line, it's everyone's responsibility, including all students, to speak up if they believe a classmate has become a danger to themself and others.

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