KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The ratio of students to school counselors is something schools districts nationwide work to keep track of. In 2016 the U.S. Department of Education found one in four schools didn't have any counselors at all and one in five districts didn't have any district wide.
"We're getting better at looking at these numbers and how they pertain to mental health and things like that," Family Trauma Specialist Melissa Rose said.
Rose specializes in walking children and their parents through extremely difficult life events.
"Children are feeling a lot of pressure to do well, not to mention if they are experiencing something tough at home," she said. "But first and foremost they spend the majority of their time at school and that also comes with it's difficulty."
On a local level, Knox County Schools has its own ratios for school counselors. The district said there's one counselor for every 800 elementary school students, one for every 335 middle school students, and to every 1,550 students, there's one psychologist.
Rose said this means counselors have a lot on their plate and that can be tough.
"You have to think of what it is like to schedule so many students at a time and how hard that is when you already have other things going on," she said.
But Helen Ross McNabb works to help Knox County Schools through a partnership the district has with it.
Mary Katsikas, the senior director of Children and Youth Mental Health Programming said in a statement "We know that having access to mental health services and reaching kids in their natural environments is key. One of those environments is the school system. The earlier we can intervene the better, but it is never too late to make a difference for a kid that is struggling, by ensuring they have the tools to feel valued, important and successful. Knox County Schools has taken a diligent and proactive stance in partnering with mental health agencies to address the mental health issues impacting children in the school system."
Rose said these kinds of actions show an awareness that can be seen across East Tennessee.
"We're starting to see more numbers and more people looking at this but we have to keep reacting in order to move forward," she said.