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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 21, 2022 09:59 AM
From: Representative Napoleon J. Nelson
To: All House members
Subject: Student Mental Health Days

The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges for students in K-12 schools, as schools took hard steps to ensure that students were able to learn safely. While necessary, these changes caused significant stress on our students. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the pandemic negatively affected the mental health of many children and youth, creating even more concern for an existing problem. About one in three high school students reported experiencing poor mental health most of the time or always during the pandemic, and almost 20 percent of students had seriously considered attempting suicide.
It is important to acknowledge the importance of taking care of our mental health, which is why I am introducing legislation similar to Senator Kane’s Senate Bill 844 to allow students to take excused absences for mental health reasons. Providing for mental health days would encourage students to take care of their mental health as they would their physical health. Further, this legislation would align Pennsylvania with Oregon and Utah which have already passed bipartisan legislation to provide students with this useful mental health tool.
It is time that mental health supports are normalized in schools, allowing for schools to better understand how they can help students who take absences. I hope you will join me in supporting this legislation to show students, and their schools, that mental health needs to be valued just as much as physical health.