New York students would be able to skip school for mental health reasons under new bill
A new bill aimed at curbing student suicide would allow New York students to take a break from school for mental health reasons.
State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) introduced legislation Wednesday that would require school districts to consider mental health concerns an equally valid reason to miss school as physical ones.
“We need to recognize suicide and self-harm among young New Yorkers as the major public health crisis that it is, demolish the stigma around mental health care, and do everything within our power to help kids who are struggling seek treatment," Hoylman said.
The law would put New York in the company of Oregon and Utah, which both passed recent bills requiring to recognize mental health days as excused absences. Illinois is considering a similar idea.
The proposal doesn’t specify how districts craft their attendance policies, but shifts mental health into the category of a “permitted absence” under state law.
In New York, 4,500 students were hospitalized for self harm in 2016, and experts say permitted days off to attend to mental health encourage kids to seek treatment.
Mental health experts lauded the proposal, but encouraged state educators to incorporate mental health treatment into the school system.
“It is important to bring mental health issues on par with physical health as valid reasons for students’ absences," Dr. John Garruto, president of the New York Association of School Psychologists, said. "However, just as schools have nurses to address the physical health needs of students, they need to have the appropriate school-employed mental health professionals, such as school psychologists, to meet the social and emotional needs of students to prevent excessive absences due to these issues.”