HARRISBURG – The COVID-19 pandemic is creating the need for additional mental health services in all grade levels of public school systems according to Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland), who jointly chaired a hearing of the House Children and Youth and Education committees.
“As students return back to school, it is important for the two committees to hear how the mental health needs of children are being addressed in the public school system,” Delozier said. “It’s essential to know how schools identify and assist a student with mental health needs, and discuss how those services are funded. As the state funding flows to schools through our counties, we need to make sure there is an open line of communication and schools see the dollars to serve our children.”
In testimony, Sherri Smith, Pennsylvania Department of Education’s acting deputy secretary of elementary and secondary education, explained how the ongoing pandemic’s frequent transitions to remote learning created additional stressors and trauma on students’ mental health and physical well-being.
“It is our responsibility as mental health professionals, educators and policy makers to do everything within our power to help every student,” Smith said. “We expect there to be even greater needs next school year as students fully return to in-person instruction.”
In addition, Todd Stoltz, superintendent of West Shore School District, gave testimony on the school district’s individual therapy and group counseling services. He also testified about what challenges it still faces.
“We’re excited for more services covered through insurance carriers, but there are still other challenges that remain. As a result, the district picks up costs for services that are still not covered by insurance,” Stoltz said.
View the joint hearing here
Representative Sheryl Delozier
88th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives