Despite current shortages, Eklund is positive about future outlook for school mental health professionals

Currently, many districts are struggling to hire enough mental health professionals to serve the needs of their students. However, Eklund, an associate professor and co-director of the School Psychology area in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Psychology, expressed a positive outlook when it comes to recruiting and teaching the next generation of these professionals.

Speaking of UW–Madison’s School Psychology program, Eklund said, “We actually have our highest number of applicants ever! Last year we had over 150 graduate students apply to our PhD and EdS degree program in School Psychology. We have an extremely competitive program and we would love to accept more students than we are able to each year.”

Eklund added that the number of educators in this field is also strong. “There are not decreasing numbers of faculty. There are actually more faculty positions available now (and being accepted) than there were 10 years ago. School psychology currently has over 150 training programs across the country.”

Eklund also highlighted UW–Madison’s School Psychology Training Clinic, which supports schools while preparing students for their future careers.

“Our graduate students work as practicum students and interns alongside school psychologists in local schools. Together, they provide individual and small group mental health support to children and youth as well as provide schoolwide social emotional learning, trauma-informed care, and crisis response services within schools.”

When asked for her opinion on how the current shortage of mental health employees in schools could be combatted, Eklund suggested that “the Wisconsin legislature could offer loan forgiveness programs to school psychologists who elect to stay in the state of Wisconsin after graduation (similar to the Teacher Pledge program that is offered by the UW–Madison School of Education for teacher ed candidates).”

She also advocated that school districts could “increase the pay of school employed mental health professionals so they can better meet the needs of children in local schools.”

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