WA State House Passes Student Mental Health “Day” Bill
By a vote of 96-0, the Washington State House approved a bill that would officially add mental health to the list of excused medical reasons for a student's absence from school K-12
HOUSE BILL 1834 WOULD ALLOW FOR ALL MENTAL HEALTH ASPECTS TO BE INCLUDED
The bill also requires the public school system to establish and publish (for public knowledge) guidelines to define exactly what is student absence from schools.
But the crux of the bill is as follows, from the official State House synopsis (these are summaries of difficult to read legal legislative language):
"By the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, the rules of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) must categorize a student absence from school for a mental health reason as an excused absence due to illness, health condition, or medical appointment."
Some of the testimony from those supporting the bill was summarized in the following paragraph, which read in part: (from bill summary)
"Mental health is very real and very important. Depression, trauma, anxiety, and other mental health conditions are faced by students every day. Students are struggling with their mental health now more than ever. COVID-19 has had an indescribable impact on the well-being of Washington's young people forcing them to have part-time jobs, worry about sick family members, miss out on traditional extracurriculars and other experiences. Many students need mental health days; at times, they need a break from the overwhelming amount of school work and social responsibilities they experience."
It went on to say:
"By qualifying mental health reasons as an excused school absence, students will no longer House Bill Report - 3 - HB 1834 have to make this unnecessarily anxiety-producing decision. Excused absences for mental health will not solve every student's struggle, but this bill will allow students to take a pause from school to build themselves up again and will make an immense difference"
According to the WA State legislative website, no one testified against the proposal.
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