WEST JORDAN, Utah (News4Utah) – The Jordan School District plans to have a psychologist staffed at every elementary starting in the new school year. The plan is being praised for giving more focus to the many issues young students face which can lead to problems far down the road.
Dr. Douglas Goldsmith is a child psychologist said it’s great seeing schools prioritizing the issue.
“Having one psychologist there every single day of the week is really a game changer,” said Dr. Goldsmith.
Experts note while many think of bullying at the high school and junior high level. Dr. Goldsmith said he deals with these cases often in younger children.
“As I listen to 6 and 7-year-old children, I’m hearing about bullying on the playgrounds every single day,”
The district already has one psychologist for every two schools. School Board Member Jen Atwood said when looking at district priorities this was high on the list.
“We felt like we needed to look a little bit deeper within our district to see what our priorities needed to be,” said Atwood. “We had decided that mental health was one of those priorities that we really wanted to tackle.”
Schools will still have a counselor on hand to help students. Dr. Goldsmith said the difference is a psychologist can diagnose different issues or disorders which likely includes trauma-informed work.
“We look at a kid in the classroom and say is this inattention or is he unable to focus because of trauma,” said Dr. Goldsmith. “That is a trauma-informed approach.”
Dr. Goldsmith said kids at that age can deal with a host of issues outside of school including divorce, a parent with substance issues, or even sexual abuse.
The school board hopes by having the staff to catch this early it will help students as they get older.
“If we can’t identify those traumas before they go to middle school then we have a harder time identifying those issues,” said Atwood.
The district hopes by having one person on staff at every school they can give the needed focus to those who need extra help. Schools will also keep in-depth stats during the pilot year so they can study how the program is doing.