TWIN FALLS, Idaho — From graduation requirements to helping with student's mental health, school counselors have one of the most important jobs on a school campus. This year, the National School Counseling Week is from Feb. 7-11, and highlights the role school counselors play in the U.S. school system.
School counselors work closely with students on academic goals, and makes sure they are taking the courses they need to succeed.
They guide students who are struggling to meet graduation requirements, as well as help students wanting to go straight into the workforce. If students hope to head to college, counselors help to prepare them .
“Our school counselors do an amazing job of identifying students that need extra help… they identify those students and there’s someone there that cares about them and does all they can to help them be successful both in school and in their personal lives if necessary,” said Dr. L.T. Erickson, director of Secondary Programs TFSD.
With the rise of social media and battles with mental health issues among youth, the role of a school counselor has extended beyond academic advising.
“There’s a lot of new emerging issues that are coming up with students so they have to keep up-to-date with what’s going on to be able to help the students,” said Dr. Erickson.
Today’s counselors are trained on identifying students struggling with their mental health, suicide prevention and helping students who are battling substance abuse.
“A lot of our students are struggling with mental health; it seems like these past two years it’s just skyrocketed,” said Griselda Escobedo, department chair of Secondary Counselors, TFSD.
After seeing an increase in students seeking guidance for mental health issues, school counselors are helping students learn coping mechanisms and referring them to resources within the community as needed.
“These past couple of years being a school counselor has been tough, we have constant traffic all day so our… paperwork, our emails, phone calls back, typically have to be done after school hours. We find ourselves often working nights and coming in on weekends just so we can stay caught up so we can breathe,” said Escobedo
We can honor school counselors this week by being present and compassionate.
“Counselors are people, teachers are people, parents are people. I think in recognition of National School Counseling Week, we are all counselors, we are all guiding each other and supporting each other, listening to each other… we need to practice more kindness,” said Escobedo.