Proposed Md. bill would allow student mental health days as excused absences
MARYLAND – Lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow student mental health days to be counted as excused absences.
House Bill 118 would also require students who are absent due to mental health needs, to meet with a school mental health specialist for a follow up. The bill received a favorable report with amendments from the Ways and Means Committee in January.
However, some lawmakers have reservations. “I could not support the bill. I understand that premise behind it – trying to raise the awareness for mental health. But, each individual school already has a policy in place for dealing with absences,” said Del. Wayne Hartman. “In Kirwan we added additional funding for additional mental health workers in each county.”
Del. Hartman also raised concerns about how many days would be allowed, and how that follow up process would work. “If a student is having a problem, their best place may be in school where there is help there,” he said. “I want them to be in a place where they can talk through a problem, whether it’s something that takes a little bit of time to talk through, or if it’s something that needs follow up.”
If the bill is passed, it would go into effect on July 1st, 2022.