Arizona Lawmaker Sponsoring 2 Bills Focused On Students' Mental Health

By Rocio Hernandez
Published: Monday, February 15, 2021 - 3:14pm
Updated: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 11:24am
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An East Valley lawmaker is sponsoring two bills this legislative session focused on the mental health of Arizona students.

One of the bills by Sen. Sean Bowie, Senate Bill 1097, would add mental health to health education curriculum already being taught in schools. Another, Senate Bill 1376, would allow students to get excused absences for their mental and behavioral health needs. 

“I think these two bills are going to be really helpful for our young people, and help educate both teachers, and parents and kids about the importance of mental health and also just remove some of the stigma I think," he said. 

Bowie says some school districts are already doing this, but his bills will cement it in state law. He imagines SB1097 would allow students to take time off if they're being bullied, or just having a tough time and need to mentally reset.

Prioritizing students’ mental health is important now more than ever, said Arizona School Counselors Association chair Sarah Skemp. 

“We’re obviously seeing the mental health issues exacerbated since March of 2020, and even though it’s always been an issue, not just educators are noticing, but outside stakeholders are noticing there’s going to be some issues for our students," she said. 

In addition to supporting Bowie’s bills, the association is urging lawmakers to allocate funds so schools can hire more, much-needed mental health professionals.

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