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Winter Park therapist says shortage of school mental health counselors could hurt kids

Photo: Cherlette McCullough
Photo: Cherlette McCullough

Orange County Public Schools has put out a call for mental health counselors as schools nationwide struggle with a shortage of mental health professionals. WMFE’s Danielle Prieur spoke with Winter Park therapist Cherlette McCullough about why the need for counselors in Central Florida schools is urgent. 

Interview highlights

On the mental health problems kids are struggling with

"Some of those issues that children are having now, one of the main ones, is bullying, being bullied by their peers. Another one that I'm seeing a lot because I do see a lot of couples and families is that moms and dads or parents are going through divorces. Another one that I'm seeing a lot with children is eating disorders around being obese, being you know, looking different than the other students."

On why kids need mental health counselors

"As humans, we always we want to solve things and children are the same. They want to solve things and sometimes when they're in such emotional pain, emotional turmoil, they don't have anyone to talk to, anyone to turn to. That's when you start seeing things like low mood, lack of motivation, issues with concentration in school."

On where families can find mental health help outside schools

"The Mental Health Association of Central Florida has a resource which is called the Outlook Clinic for the uninsured. And so they do have counseling and psychiatric help for students as well as parents because sometimes parents, you know, in helping their children, they find out like I need some help I need someone to talk to."

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan and is a graduate of both the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys playing her guitar, writing fiction, and cooking.