There is no question that doing what we can as educators to help students with mental health is an important endeavor.
In fact, caring for the mental and physical health of all of our students should be paramount. And a recent bill signed into law by Gov. Cooper tries to tackle mental health issues and suicide prevention.
The State Board of Education must adopt a school-based mental health policy under Senate Bill 476, signed into law Monday by Gov. Roy Cooper.
The law also requires school districts to adopt and implement a plan that includes a mental health training program for staff and the development of a suicide risk referral protocol.
“The mental health of our students has never been more important, and this legislation encourages that support,” Cooper said in a statement.
The mental health policy adopted by the state must include minimum requirements for a school-based mental health policy for K-12 schools in addition to a training program and a suicide risk referral protocol.
The training must cover the following topics:
- Youth mental health
- Suicide prevention
- Substance abuse
- Sexual abuse prevention
- Sex trafficking prevention
- Teenage dating violence
Suicide prevention training is required of school personnel who work with students in grades 6-12. They must learn to identify students at risk of suicide and procedures to refer them to mental health professionals.
Yet, there’s one thing about this new law: NO FUNDING. No funding for the professional development. No funding for any other resources that might be needed. Schools don’t even have enough nurses , counselors, psychologists, or social workers to even begin to handle the case loads before this new law.
And there’s that other resource that seems to be ignored and just cannot be reproduced: time. Looking at the new guidelines for reopening schools in the fall that were released this week, educators will have less time to even perform basic duties and actually teach content because they will be too busy navigating safety protocols.
Reminiscent of the class size mandate that never was funded, this law is yet another example of a bunch of non-educators dictating what schools must do without thought of funding what is needed to even make it happen.