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06/20/2021 03:24 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=34399
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 26, 2021 11:23 AM
From: Representative Wendi Thomas and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta
To: All House members
Subject: "Phillip's Law" - Study on School Mental Health Professionals (prior HB 1622)
 
We are reintroducing this important legislation as we have seen an increase in need for mental health services for our students. A recent study conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Every Child Pediatrics finds children are increasingly struggling with mental health as a result of the pandemic and its corresponding economic crisis. In this study, parents of school-aged children report that their kids had experienced increased symptoms of mental illness since the pandemic began last March. Although a little over half (55%) of children are described by their parents as in excellent or very good mental health, one in eight children now have parents who report their kids’ mental health as poor or fair.
 
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 15-34. Recently, we have seen children even younger than 15 take their own lives.

An 11-year-old student in Representative Kenyatta’s district named Phillip committed suicide after enduring prolonged bullying from his peers. According to Phillip’s family, he tried to get the attention of the support staff at his school but was told he had to wait. Afraid to miss the bus, and worried about his brother, he left school and later took his own life.

This tragedy has drawn attention to the fact that school mental health professionals are not always available because, due to budgetary constraints and the fact that there is no mandate that schools retain mental health staff, schools may not have adequate staff on hand. Our bill would address this issue by requiring the Department of Education to investigate and report on the number of mental health professionals in schools in order to make recommendations on how to increase the number of school mental health professionals to meet nationally accepted ratios.

This legislation will help us take an honest look at the number of school mental health professionals our students have access to so that tragedies like this can be avoided in the future. We ask you to cosponsor this legislation in honor of Phillip.

Prior Cosponsors:THOMAS, KENYATTA, McCLINTON, HOHENSTEIN, FRANKEL, ULLMAN, DAY, DiGIROLAMO, McNEILL, HILL-EVANS, T. DAVIS, SCHLOSSBERG, DeLUCA, SCHROEDER, O'MARA, NEILSON, STEPHENS, SHUSTERMAN, DAWKINS, DONATUCCI, FREEMAN, SAPPEY, CALTAGIRONE, OTTEN, DALEY, TOOHIL, RADER, BROOKS, MIHALEK, MADDEN, BULLOCK, GALLOWAY, KINSEY, JOHNSON-HARRELL, MALAGARI, WARREN, BURGOS, POLINCHOCK, HANBIDGE, ISAACSON, MURT, KIM, FIEDLER, ROZZI AND HELM
 



Introduced as HB983