ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)– A recent report by the New York State Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, found more needs to be done to provide mental health training to school staff.
An audit discovered of the schools selected, they did not meet the September 15th training deadline for the 2020-2021 school year.
An audit sampling of 20 school districts found 18 of them either did not offer mental health training for staff or if they did, lacked some of the recommended components suggested by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“They talk about anxiety, they talk about behavior problems, they talk about eating disorders, about mood, about personality, about trauma and stress,” explained Elliott Auerbach, Deputy Comptroller for Local Government and School Accountability. “These are areas that should be focused in on and should be kept conscious by staff and reported if there is an issue.
Of the 20 districts, only Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Canandaigua City offered training with all 12 components.
“We were extremely proud of the fact of our trainings,” said Dacey Bonney, Director of Employee Relations for Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Schools. “We have been focusing on our trainings for the last several years, and that was a success. One of our where we needed improvement was getting our trainings done in a timely manner. It was due by the 15 of September and we didn’t quite make that.”
Auerbach stressed that the report is not a condemnation of any district.
“This is a call to action,” stated Auerbach. “Hey you know, you can do better. Here are some of the areas we recognize as your blind spots, as areas that need improvement.”
According to the report, most district officials told auditors that the pandemic caused them to focus their attention on returning students to school safely for in-person learning which impacted the school’s ability to provide timely mental health training.
Auerbach said it’s important for everyone to work together to address this issue.
“When I say work together, that includes, State Ed, The New York State board of Education, that includes our office, and anyone who really has a steak in the game. To work together to move this forward and to hopefully improve so the next time we come back as a follow up to this, we will be pretty much near 100 percent when we take a look at these 20 districts.”