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New Report Highlights Challenges in Providing Mental and Behavioral Health Care in Nebraska Schools
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
[LINCOLN, NE] January 3, 2022 – Nebraska faces a shortage of mental and behavioral health services in schools, while student demand for these services has steadily increased, according to a new report published by the Nebraska School Psychologists Association. These shortages are exacerbated by a lack of access to school-based mental health professionals. Currently, only 61.6% of students needing treatment received necessary levels of care (pg 21).
“Mental and behavioral health impacts every aspect of a child’s life inside and outside of school. School based services provide access to effective interventions for students and collaborative partnerships with the adults in the lives of children that support healthy growth and learning,” said Katie Bevins of the Nebraska School Psychologists Association. “School psychologists have unique training to provide these comprehensive services; however, there are simply not enough of us to meet the growing needs of our students. As a practicing school psychologist, I see the impact every day in my work.”
The report was published as part of LR213, an interim study introduced by Senator Jen Day to examine the mental and behavioral health needs of Nebraska students.
In the upcoming session, Senator Day will be introducing legislation to address the shortage of mental health professionals in schools, “We’re currently experiencing a youth mental health crisis and that combined with the already existing shortage of providers in Nebraska underscores the importance of acting now to get kids the care they need,” said Senator Day. “Making sure our schools are adequately staffed with behavioral health professionals who understand the unique circumstances facing students these days is the first step.”
Findings in the LR213 report include:
Challenges related to a shortage of mental health professionals
During the 2019-20 school year, Nebraska had a ratio of 987 students to 1 school psychologist (987:1), nearly double the recommended ratio for 500 students to 1 school psychologist (pg 27).
Challenges related to state Medicaid regulations
Nebraska is one of only 15 states where school psychologists are not a Medicaid approved provider, which prevents schools from being able to be reimbursed for school psychological services provided for Medicaid eligible students (pg 15). The lack of Medicaid reimbursement for eligible services provided by school psychologists has created challenges in financing for mental health services in Nebraska schools.
Among the solutions offered in the report include changing the Nebraska Medicaid State Plan to add school psychologists on the approved provider list (pg 17), a comprehensive internship or loan forgiveness program to increase Nebraska’s school psychology workforce (pg 19), and allowing school psychologists to apply for provisional licensed mental health provider (PLMHP) credential (pg 16).
The report will be hosted on Senator Day’s legislative page, which can be accessed at: http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist49/files/2022/01/LR213-Data-Report.pdf
Senator Jen Day of District 49 represents north-central Sarpy county, including the areas of Chalco, western Papillion and La Vista.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Katherine Esters
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Senator Jen Day and advocates for school epilepsy safety to hold press conference
When: Wednesday, March 24 at 8:30AM
Who: Senator Jen Day, representatives from the Epilepsy Foundation of Nebraska, and students with epilepsy
What: Press conference highlighting the need for LB639, the Seizure Safe Schools Act
Where: Nebraska State Capitol Rotunda
Why: This week, LB639, the Seizure Safe Schools Act, will be heard on General File Debate. Ahead of debate, advocates will provide personal stories of the challenges that students with epilepsy face, and the ways that LB639 will provide solutions to these issues.
Following the hearing, Senator Day will be available for media comment. Advocates and students will be available upon request.
Senator Jen Day of District 49 represents northwestern Sarpy county, including the areas of Gretna, Millard, and western Papillion and La Vista in the Nebraska State Legislature
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