Policy Matters Blog
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Call of Duty
This year has been overwhelming. And unfortunately, the “new normal” for many school psychologists is to relegate our own mental health while we attempt to aid others in our care.
The events of the pandemic, including those at the Capitol just weeks ago, have been difficult to process. Those on the frontlines of mental health are searching for strength and courage. Finding just the right words that offer comfort and security to anxious children seems like our daily struggle. In addition, a hybrid schedule means replying to emails, connecting to teachers, Zoom fatigue, advising administrators, calming parents, and trying to assess students behind Plexiglas shields while remaining six feet apart and wearing a mask. These are just a few of the demands on our time. It is not easy being a school psychologist.
And yet, the other day I was asked to advocate on behalf of the profession.
At a time when I wasn’t sure I had scheduled time to eat lunch, I picked up the phone, dialed my legislator, and left a voice message.
Working with teenagers means understanding that Call of Duty is a popular first-person shooter game, but it also refers to something you feel obligated to do. Going above or beyond the call of duty means you are doing more than is required, needed, or expected of you. You do this task for noble reasons, knowing there will be no reward or payment for it.
So when my phone rang minutes later, I hadn’t expected a return call so quickly. I explained that I was a school psychologist, a constituent, and that I was overwhelmed. The education staffer who returned my call was so kind, considerate, and genuinely understanding—it’s easy to become cynical when watching the national news. This phone call was someone from my community who was willing to exchange ideas, discuss resources, and allow me to share my experience. In fact, this was someone who wanted to better understand the impact of the pandemic on children and families.
School psychologists are problem solvers. We work with teachers, families, administrators, and others to help address issues with individual students and the systems that serve them. We can team up with local policy makers and with state and federal legislators to share our experiences and our solutions to the challenges facing our communities. Our stories resonate; they provide the opportunity to advance school psychology priorities and put our solutions into context. There is no special requirement to making these calls—just a willingness to reach out and have a heart-to-heart conversation.
There has never been a greater need for advocacy. We owe it to the profession, and more importantly, we owe it to the students and families we serve. How will you answer your call of duty?