Lowcountry teachers asking for mental health professionals in schools

VIDEO: Lowcountry teachers asking for mental health professionals in schools

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The fight for education reform continued Thursday as teachers from the Lowcountry met with lawmakers, asking for their help to make sure children have all of the tools they need to be better students and adults.

Mahwish Macintosh has worked in education for 16 years and this is her first year teaching at North Charleston High School.

“We have a high number of students who need and can definitely benefit from comprehensive mental health services," she said. "And we’re not just talking about counseling services but we’re also talking about those character skills and life building skills.”

She says the students aren’t to blame because they’re products of a system that neglects mental health.

“Not just north area schools but across the board regardless of age, regardless of status we are seeing more and more children who are having difficulties handling and dealing with their emotions and traumas which is negatively impacting their learning in the classroom,” Macintosh said.

Rep. William Cogswell of District 110 was one of the legislators at the meeting. He says he’s on board to help.

“I talk to teachers every chance that I get because the way I see it, they are the front line trench on education," Cogswell said. "They’re the ones that see it, live it, and breathe it every day.”

During the meeting teachers explained this can help teacher retention. They say teachers leaving can make the problem worse.

“When you’re dealing with children who have experienced that abandonment so frequently, its important to understand that the acting out isn’t neccesarly towards me as the educator or teacher but more of a test to make sure this adult is going to have my back,” Macintosh said.

Cogswell says reform is on the way.

“It’s going to take some time. You know food bills and good legislation typically don’t happen over night,” he said.

In the fall, lawmakers plan to meet with the teacher of the year from every district to create a plan of action.

The next meeting for The Lowcountry regions of S.C. for Ed is July 15 and it is open to the public.

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