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Senate Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 23, 2018 02:24 PM
From: Senator Guy Reschenthaler
To: All Senate members
Subject: Mental Health Screenings for Students in Pennsylvania
In the near future, I plan on introducing legislation that will require depression screenings for students across Pennsylvania. This legislation is also being introduced in the House by Representatives Dan Miller and Judy Ward.

Currently, although there are various mandatory health requirements for students in the Commonwealth, such as dental exams and vision and hearing screenings, there is no required mental health examination. This legislation will ensure that each student receives a depression screening along with their required physical exams in sixth and eleventh grade.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 20% of youth ages 13 through 18 live with a brain health condition that can drastically affect their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Lack of proper diagnosis and treatment can result in serious risk-taking behaviors such as dropping out of school, substance abuse or self-medication, harm to oneself, or in very rare cases, harm to others. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for youth ages 12-18, while half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. We know that 80-90% of adolescents who are diagnosed for depression are treated successfully, but most are being missed.

It is important to note that this bill allows parents to choose who conducts the screen and also allows them to opt their child out of this requirement. To ensure the privacy of each student’s information, no record of the screen shall be permitted to be part of a student’s academic record. Additionally, the bill does not mandate that school districts themselves perform any of the screens nor that they receive the results of the screen- only that they receive confirmation that one has occurred.

Improving the diagnosis and treatment of brain health conditions for students in Pennsylvania will advance the overall health and safety of our children.

I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this legislation. Please contact Elise Argall with any questions at 717-787-5839.

Introduced as SB1181