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Schools impacted by lack of mental health counselors

At Biddeford Public Schools, they provide mental health services to more than one thousand students.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Mental health counselors play an important role at Biddeford Public Schools.

"It's hard to focus on math and reading when you have other things on your mind," said Kelsey Langill, student service and truancy coordinator at Biddeford Intermediate School.

They provide mental health services to more than one thousand students. 

"We're dealing with a lot of different behaviors in terms of anxiety, and lack of self regulation," said Ashley Belanger, resilience resource truancy coordinator at JFK Memorial School.

"It's important as we are supporting children we are also supporting their families who are also having mental health issues and challenges," said Wendy LeBlanc, school counselor at Biddeford Primary School.

Even with all of their hard work, there is not enough of them to go around. It can be tough making sure every student gets what they need.

"We definitely need more support," said Andrew Young, resilience resource truancy coordinator at Biddeford Primary School.

It's why Senator Angus King announced his support for legislation that would improve mental health services at Maine schools.

RELATED: Senator King backs bill to improve mental health services in Maine schools

His office says the recommended student-to-counselor ratio is 250 students per counselor. Here in Maine, the student to counselor ratio is 321 students to one counselor.

The Biddeford student support team is feeling those numbers.

"I'm limited as to what I can do during the school day... How many kids I can see," said Young.

The support team says it's now more important than ever to make sure students are taken care of, so they can go on to live happy and healthy lives.

The elementary and secondary school counseling act would establish grants that would be provided to states, to help ensure every school can meet the recommended counselor-to-student ratios.