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.
Anyone who has had the chance to work in more than one psychology department – either as undergraduate, graduate, or faculty member – comes to realize that every workplace is different. There are different norms, different dress codes, different colleagues, and different leadership styles. But whatever work setting you end up in, you are guaranteed to find one strong commonality:
everyone is so busy.
And you will find this commonality immediately because everyone will want to tell you how busy they are.
Nearly all doctoral programs and many master’s degree programs in psychology require submission of a personal statement as part of the application package. In my experience advising students as well as serving as a graduate dean for many years, few things in the application process cause students as much anxiety and prompt so many questions.
One of the things I love about psychology is that it encourages people to be courageous about looking inward and evaluating themselves honestly. This kind of thinking, in my opinion, should extend to your teaching practice.
It is normal for some students to experience back-to-school stress. Many challenges come with the start of a new school year. This article is geared toward the typical stressors of starting or returning to school, and is not intended to focus on students showing severe cases of anxiety or depression. Many of the school-related challenges described below can cause students distress, irritability, reduced focus or academic performance. Though many of these changes simply take time to adapt to, others are readily addressable.