Children and adolescents in the United States face significant challenges related to academic achievement and mental health. For example, only 36% (reading) and 40% (mathematics) of 4th grade students scored at or above proficiency on standardized tests in 2015 (McFarland et al., 2017). Approximately 1 out of every 17 students will not complete high school and about 13% of the school population, representing 6.6 million youth, require special education services for one or more disabilities that invariably affect their learning and mental health (McFarland et al., 2017). Roughly 1 out of every 5 students will experience a clinically significant mental disorder chiefly including anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and mood disturbances such as depression (Kessler et al., 2012). Thus, it is clear that our student population needs ongoing, effective support to meet and overcome these challenges successfully. Who will answer the call to address these needs? Fortunately, school psychologists are ideally suited to enhance student academic and mental health given their extensive training and experience in educational and mental health support strategies.
Kevin, a bright, enthusiastic second-grader, has tremendous difficulties in school. He can’t seem to pay attention to his teacher’s instruction, gets distracted easily by activities around him, has trouble staying still in his seat, and often bothers his classmates by talking to them during work time or calling out without permission. As a result, Kevin gets very little work done and is getting increasingly further behind in math and reading. Kevin’s teacher and parents are very frustrated and blame each other for Kevin’s difficulties. Unfortunately, Kevin’s situation is very typical for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); a condition that affects between 5 to 10% of students in the US.