Oklahoma adds 300 counselors to school system to benefit student’s mental health

Oklahoma adds 300 counselors to school system to benefit student's mental health
KOAM Image

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. –The School Counselor Corps adds more than 300 counselors and mental health professionals to the Oklahoma public schools in order to improve student stability and mental health.

The corps was launched in 2021 by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. It is a three-year, $35 million initiative supported by COVID stabilization funding through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.

Hofmeister said the School Counselor Corps is bringing much-needed services to schools, some of which have not had a single school counselor in the past.

“This is a crucial investment for our students,” Hofmeister said. “School counselors and mental health professionals play a transformative role in helping students work through adversity, achieve success in the classroom and prepare for life after high school.”

Jenna Jones, executive director of comprehensive school counseling for the OSDE, said some school districts have added new, more creative programs to help their students. Moore, Mustang and Shawnee Public Schools added therapists to their staff to implement recreation-based mental health programs. Several other districts, including Checotah, Bixby, Morris and Grove, added a therapy dog program to serve students.

“The feedback we’re getting from school administrators is that they are seeing an improvement in student wellbeing and a positive impact on student outcomes,” Jones said.

Click here to read more about how Oklahoma schools will implement its newest professionals.