A few years ago, Christopher Page Jr.’s Colorado high school was rocked by a spate of student deaths, including three by suicide. So the longtime principal was troubled when he couldn’t fill a school psychologist job for an entire year. Nobody had applied. This summer, he finally hired a budding social worker who was still finishing her last two classes.

He helped get her an emergency license, which was not hard, because there is an emergency.

In his area and elsewhere, the student mental health crisis is unfolding as the nation’s schools face a shortage of counselors, psychologists, social workers and therapists — each problem amplified by the other, and all of them worsening since the pandemic began. “There’s just such an influx of need,” Page said.

“Not only do we have shortages, but we have attrition from the mental health field,” said Sharon Hoover, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and co-director of the National Center for School Mental Health at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine. “So as demand is going up, supply is going down.”