Teachers report that a growing number of students are attending with more complex social, emotional, and learning needs.
As a Senior School Psychologist I work with a wide range of students, their families and the school staff who teach them. Our workload and demand for the services we provide in schools is ever increasing.
I have noticed over my career that the work and referrals for School Psychology services are becoming increasingly complex. Our role is crucial in providing schools with the diagnosis, evidence and recommendations to support and teach children with complex behavioural, developmental and mental health needs. Without these services, schools would not be able to access the funding required for teachers to make the adjustments needed for many of these children.
We have specialist skills in assessment, diagnosis as well as intervention and therapeutic support or counselling for students with a disability, mental illness, challenging behaviour and other issues that impact on a young person’s capacity to participate and learn at school. We work closely with teachers, support teachers, Social Workers, Speech and Language Pathologists and School Health Nurses.
Together with our Social Work colleagues we also support schools to recover and cope during and following a critical incident or crisis event. We work across multiple sites which means we are often in three to four (and sometimes more) schools in the one week, each with its own caseload, waiting list and referral priorities.
I have noticed that increasingly students and their families are turning to schools for help and to provide specialist crisis support for a range of mental health problems. We are seeing lots more young people present with suicidal
distress and complex emotional and psychiatric needs for which there are few other services available to support them. These mental health issues severely impact on a student’s capacity to engage and participate at school.
Psychologists are highly sought after in the private sector and in other Government agencies so it can be difficult for public education to recruit and retain the experienced professionals that they need to meet the demand in schools across the state.