Magazine article Curriculum Review

GRADES K-12: Oregon Law Allows Students to Take Mental Health Days

Magazine article Curriculum Review

GRADES K-12: Oregon Law Allows Students to Take Mental Health Days

Article excerpt

As students return to Oregon classrooms this year, they will be officially allowed to take "mental health days" instead of an unexcused absence. That's because of a new law that was recently signed by Governor Kate Brown allowing students to have an excused absence if they miss school because of their mental or behavioral health, according to recent reports.

Oregon's suicide rates are 40 percent above the national average and rising, according to an article by the Associated Press (AP) published at KDRV.com. The state health authority said suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 34. Experts said the bill came just in time for the new school year.

Oregon's law is one of the first state laws to explicitly instruct schools to treat mental health and physical health equally, and it comes at a time educators are increasingly considering the emotional health of students. Utah passed a similar law last year, noted the AP report.

But the bill was actually the brainchild of students who attended a leadership camp last year and worked with lobbyists and mental health advocates to push for the legislation.

An 18-year-old from Sherwood, who helped champion the mental health bill, said she and other student leaders were motivated by the national youth-led movement that followed last year's Parkland, Florida, school shooting.

"We were inspired by Parkland in the sense that it showed us that young people can totally change the political conversation," she said to the AP. …

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