To the editor:
The recent outbreak of fights at Lawrence High School is clear evidence of young people under unrelenting stress. Sadly, this is a crisis of resource allocation that is not being addressed. In her recent column Maddie August highlighted the acute shortage of therapists in the Commonwealth.
As a school counselor who regularly identifies therapists for young people, I witness the effects of this crisis of availability every day. Finding providers for children and adolescents has become nearly impossible in a world where access to effective help turns on insurance coverage. Our current therapist pool is exhausted, overworked, and unable to meet the continued outsize demand for new referrals. The next pandemic is the looming mental health impact of this neglect, which we will feel for years.
This is a human supply chain issue where the shortage is not one of skilled professionals, but of providers who are empowered to act. A bill now under consideration at the State House would increase the number of qualified providers at no cost. School counselors have the training, ability, and experience to provide effective help. The Committee on Professional Licensure needs to act quickly to move the bill — Bill H. 351 “An Act Expanding Licensure Opportunities for School Counselors” — to the full House for a vote. Let the chair know that you support increasing availability of mental health services for young people at Tackey.Chan@mahouse.gov.