Hart District dedicates 1st week of February to mental health counselors

The William S. Hart Union High School District. Dan Watson/The Signal
The William S. Hart Union High School District. Dan Watson/The Signal

William S. Hart Union High School District board unanimously voted to recognize the week of Feb. 3-7 as National School Counseling Week across the district during Wednesday night’s school board meeting.

The week was declared National School Counseling Week: “School Counselors: Helping Build Better Humans” by the American School Counselor Association. Although college-preparation counseling is important during high school, Hart District has focused on providing mental health counseling for students.

“The week highlights the tremendous impact school counselors can have at helping students achieve school success and to plan for a career,” said Mike Kuhlman, deputy superintendent of the district. “And with the Saugus tragedy remaining on all of our minds, I think this would be an appropriate time to mention that our school counselors have been doing indispensable work helping students and staff traumatized by this tragedy.”

From 2004-15, mental health professionals in California schools have increased 28%, according to the ASCA. The average statewide student-to-counselor ratio, with respect to mental health, is approximately 760-to-1.

“When I was a teacher at Canyon (High School), we only had one (therapist),” said Linda Storli, board president for the Hart District. “Now, we have 50.”

Beginning in 2012, the district began to employ more therapists in the district, according to Kuhlman. Today, the district employees 50 therapists across the multiple high schools and junior high schools in the district which have an attendance rate of nearly 23,000, according to the district’s demographics.

“I am so very proud of the response to the tragedy and all of the abundance of additional resources we’ve been able to bring to help our students and staff in need, but the simple fact remains that we would not have been able to do it if we did not have the tireless support of our existing counseling staff as an infrastructure to build upon.”

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