Tester introduces bill to improve student health, increase achievement

Former teacher steps up to train more school counselors, social workers and psychologists

(BOZEMAN, Mont.) – Former teacher and U.S. Senator Jon Tester is working to help Montana schools train and hire more school counselors, social workers and psychologists to improve student health and achievement.

These professionals support students with mental and behavioral health challenges so they can focus on success in the classroom. But Montana’s student-to-school counselor ratio is nearly two times higher than the recommended level, and ratios for the other positions are even worse.

Tester’s legislation will create a competitive grant program to fund and train more school counselors, social workers and psychologists. It will develop partnerships between higher education institutions that teach these professionals and the local education agencies that need them most.

Studies show that students who receive social-emotional support and prevention services achieve higher levels of academic success.

“We need to make sure that students’ mental and behavioral health needs are addressed. Once those needs are met, kids can achieve in the classroom and get the education that helps them get good jobs,” Tester said. “This bill will help schools make sure their students are on the path to success.”

Nationwide, only sixteen percent of children who need mental health services get the support they need.

Tester’s bill, which he recently introduced, will prioritize placing mental health professionals in rural areas and Native American communities where they’re needed most. It is supported by nine organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the American School Counselor Association, the School Social Work Association of American, the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Federation of Teachers.

Tester’s Increasing Student Achievement by Increasing Student Support Act is available online HERE.