Can’t Hire Enough School Counselors? How AI Helps Schools Support Student Mental Health

 student mental health

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a part of our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. It’s the technology that powers everything from the recommendations we see in our Netflix and Spotify accounts, to the apps we rely on for navigation, like Google Maps and Waze. 

You may not realize that AI is at work in our schools as well. For example, AI powers the web filtering that has been used for many years to keep students safer online. However, this is just scratching the surface of AI’s potential to make the important work done by educators — as well as school counselors — a little easier.

The next evolution of AI technology goes beyond student safety to help schools proactively address the student mental health crisis. Innovations in student wellness technology can help school counselors identify students who may be struggling and at-risk. AI-powered student wellness tools act like a superpowered set of eyes and ears, helping strapped student services teams more effectively serve students — even with the resources they currently have.

Student mental health is declining — and so is the availability of school counselors

Students across the country and the world have felt the impacts of the isolation and grief brought on by the pandemic. Add to that senseless and terrifying incidents of tragic school violence, and it’s no secret that student mental health is in crisis

To learn more about the current state of student mental health, get the full report here. 

School staff are also stretched too thin, with limited resources to respond to the mental health needs of their students. Nearly 40 percent of U.S. school districts didn’t have a school psychologist in the first full year of the pandemic, and the lingering effects of this deficit are still being felt today. Also, despite the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommendation that schools provide one counselor for every 250 students, only 14 percent of districts meet that target.

The statistics paint a grim picture, and there’s no quick or easy solution for a crisis of this magnitude. But AI-powered technology offers a glimmer of hope for those tasked with supporting student mental health. Specifically, AI-powered student wellness monitoring can help school counselors work more efficiently and effectively, even as students’ needs are increasing and resources remain scarce. 

AI-powered student wellness monitoring can help you identify students that need help

When your students are using managed devices, it’s inevitable that they’re going to use those devices to do online searches — and not just for their schoolwork. Kids’ online search behaviors can reveal much about what they’re going through in their private lives. This information can be invaluable to school counselors, helping them know which students are experiencing things like bullying and depression, as well as those who are contemplating violence and self-harm. For those students who are afraid or unsure how to ask for help, and sadly some are, this insight can be life saving. 

By using sophisticated analysis of a student’s web history, searches, documents, and emails, AI can help school counselors understand their students’ current wellness levels, as well as quickly spot changes in those levels. With the support of AI-powered student wellness monitoring, school counselors gain the ability to identify students who may be in crisis earlier and, in many cases, before things get worse. Without AI-powered student wellness solutions in place, counselors may be in the dark about what their students are really experiencing and struggling with.

Student wellness monitoring helps school counselors be more effective, even when managing large numbers of students

If you’re a school counselor, it’s very likely that the number of students you’re responsible for far exceeds the 250-to-1 student to school counselor ratio recommended by ASCA. When counselors and student services teams are put in the position of looking after hundreds or even thousands of students, not to mention supporting several schools, it’s nearly impossible to provide the type of personalized support that students deserve.

With an AI-powered student wellness solution, counselors can keep an eye on every student in a school or district at once – allowing them to focus on the students that need their help the most. By relying on AI to provide visibility into how all of their students are trending, school counselors can focus their efforts where they’re needed most and intervene with the students who need help now.

Using technology as a tool to support student mental health

It may seem odd that technology — which is often blamed for students’ struggles — could also provide some relief for resource-strapped school counselors and social workers. While technology-driven factors like social media have added to the challenges kids face, technology isn’t entirely to blame, nor is it all bad. 

Technology, like lots of things, has the potential to be a problem or a powerful tool, depending on how it’s used. On the positive side, technology has made it possible for kids — and adults, too — to learn more than ever about our world and do so in new and exciting ways. It’s also making it possible for student services teams to do more with the resources they have, even if those resources are limited.

To learn more about how you can use technology to support student mental health and wellness, read the blog.

Leave a Reply