From safety to teacher retention, some of the toughest challenges facing South Carolina’s schools today are tied to one commonality: school behavioral health.
The University of South Carolina psychology professor Mark Weist told South Carolina Radio Network there are students who have behavioral problems but do not get the proper help.
“We know that many students struggle with emotional behavioral issues,” Weist said. “In most communities, that’s more than 20 percent of students.”
As a clinical psychologist, Weist said he has dedicated 27 years to advancing school behavioral health policies and programs nationwide. Before joining the Carolina faculty in 2010, he helped found the Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine and the School Mental Health International Leadership Exchange.
Weist said USC is working with the South Carolina Department of Education “to assist youths who are at risk for or are already involved in special education related to emotional behavioral challenges.”
The statewide alliance will tap into those resources when working with seven South Carolina school districts during the initiative’s first year.
In addition to guiding school behavioral health programs throughout the next five years, the leadership team aims to champion policy change including expanding the state-based mental health program, so every public school has dedicated mental health clinician.