AUSTIN (KXAN) — School shootings, online bullying and COVID-19 — they’re all topics some Central Texas counselors are discussing on a regular basis.

“I want them to feel seen, I want them to feel heard,” said Bobbi Sanchez, a high school counselor with Round Rock ISD. “We try to make them feel better.”

Sanchez said over the years, more students have been reaching out to her to get help with their mental health, but are there enough counselors?

The American School Counselor Association recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of 250:1, but according to ASCA the national average is 415:1.

“We are lucky that we are doing between 350 and 370, and I do know other high schools in the area have more,” said Sanchez.

RRISD said its greatest need for additional counselors comes in at the elementary level.

Austin ISD said it has 16 elementary counselor openings, six high school openings and six middle school openings.

“I think the role of school counselor has always been important and is now more important nowadays with the increase for mental health needs,” said Maritza Gonzalez, director of counseling with Hays CISD.

Hays CISD uses a system called Lightspeed Alert which tracks keywords or phrases that are concerning. It’s one way to recognize a troubled student and act. Last year the system tagged more than 400 concerning words or phrases typed in.

“I am happy to report that we were able to intervene early on in various cases of students,” said Gonzalez.

While it’s helping identify who needs help, Gonzalez said more counselors are needed to help more students.

“We are doing the best we can with what we have available to us,” said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said early identification is important to helping a student work through their troubles.

Hays CISD currently has three counselor positions open.

Eanes ISD told KXAN the original intent of a school counselor was to help students plan for a career, and over time that role has expanded to encompass social and emotional skills, providing responsive services and supporting the school system overall.

EISD has a staff of 19 certified school counselors and six licensed school-based therapists. Currently, all positions are filled.