Headline

Students need access to mental health counseling, not police

While mental health counseling for students is a critical need that follows them from pre-school to college, students are much more likely to see police officers, rather than counselors, in their schools.

A recent report by the ACLU found that 1.7 million students attend K-12 schools that have police, yet no counselors. What’s more, schools with police reported 3.5 times as many arrests as schools without police. And Black students are arrested at a rate three times higher than white students, further perpetuating a cycle of criminalizing students of color rather than addressing their needs.

As the ACLU bluntly stated, “the presence of permanent school police shifts the focus from learning and supporting students to over-disciplining and criminalizing them.”

The CSU faces similar problems. There are approximately 300 sworn police officers in the CSU, not including management-level police officials, while there are only 250 Counselors by headcount in the CSU system-wide.

At some campuses, like Cal State LA, the counselor-to-student ratio is tragically small, with just one mental health counselor per 3,800 students. In the CSU, 18 out of 23 campuses exceed the maximum ratio of one counselor per 1,500 students recommended by the International Association of Counseling Services.

Research shows that access to mental health counselors improves attendance, grades, and graduation rates. That’s why CFA is sponsoring legislation to address the shortfall. Senate Bill 660, authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan, would mandate that the CSU meet the recommended standards, thus improving student access to mental health counseling on campus. The bill also would require the CSU to provide public data about suicides on campuses, and to conduct a mental health survey of each campus every three years.

Click here to learn more about SB 660.

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