Bill to increase mental health professionals for Michigan students

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A bill is making its way through the Michigan legislature that would give Michigan students greater access to mental health professionals.

Michigan ranks 49 out of 50 states in counselors available to students. He is a counselor for 671 students. According to a report by the American School Counselor Association, the ratio should be one counselor for every 250 students.

Additionally, there is one psychologist for every 1,521 students in Michigan. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends a ratio of one psychologist for every 500 students.

The bill seeks to establish the Mental Health Learning Program for Student Retention and Training (SMART). The program would encourage school counsellors, social workers and psychologists to continue to work within their school systems and expand their services.

National Alliance on Mental Illness director of operations Rick Coates says he wants to end the stigma.

“Mental illness is treated so differently than any other type of illness. There’s such a stigma around mental illness that we really need to start with young adults, middle and high school students. Make them feel comfortable and understand that if you’re fighting anything, you know you’re not okay with it. It’s not something to be ashamed of,” Coates says.

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