Patterico's Pontifications


Oregon: New Law Allows Students To Take “Mental Health Days”

Filed under: General — Dana @ 12:35 pm

[guest post by Dana]

The idea behind the law is to help change the stigma of mental health in Oregon:

Oregon will allow students to take “mental health days” just as they would sick days, expanding the reasons for excused school absences to include mental or behavioral health under a new law that experts say is one of the first of its kind in the U.S.

But don’t call it coddling. The students behind the measure say it’s meant to change the stigma around mental health in a state that has some of the United States’ highest suicide rates. Mental health experts say it 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.

Oregon’s bill, signed by Gov. Kate Brown last month, also represents one of the few wins for youth activistsfrom around the state who were unusually active at the Capitol this year. Along with expanded mental health services, they lobbied for legislation to strengthen gun control and lower the voting age, both of which failed.

Oregon has some of the highest suicide rates of young people in the nation:

Suicide is Oregon’s second leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 34, according to data from the state Health Authority. Nearly 17% of eighth-graders reported seriously contemplating taking their lives within the past 12 months.

And it’s not just an Oregon problem, although the state does have a suicide rate 40% higher than the national average. The national suicide rate has also been on the rise and recently hit a 50-year high, climbing more than 30% since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Opponents to the law argued that:

…the legislation wasn’t necessary, as students can already take mental health days by lying or pretending to be sick. Other opponents have said the law will encourage students to find more excuses to miss school in a state that also suffers from one of the worst absenteeism rates in the nation. More than 1 in 6 children missed at least 10% of school days in the 2015-2016 school year, according to state data.

Students who helped champion the mental health bill pushed back on the opposition’s argument:

Why should we encourage lying to our parents and teachers? Being open to adults about our mental health promotes positive dialogue that could help kids get the help they need.

Last year, during the month of February alone, five teens died by suicide in the Oregon city of Eugene.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


14 Responses to “Oregon: New Law Allows Students To Take “Mental Health Days””

  1. Five teen suicides in one month is just awful. Somehow I don’t think this new law is going to help too much with the problem.

    Dana (bb0678)

  2. Also, the bill allows for five excused absences in a three-month span for mental health reasons.

    Dana (bb0678)

  3. Kishnevi,

    It doesn’t address whether parents will have a say in this, and to what degree:

    Under the new rule, school districts will be able to choose the types of classes children will be required to take, according to Department of Education spokeswoman Cheryl Etters. The instruction includes courses about cyberbullying, suicide prevention and the impact of substance abuse.

    Dana (bb0678)

  4. Mental health days? I am not sure what this really means, except that it may cost the state some money because it will encourage people to see professionals (who are worse than dentists in promoting the continuation of problems).

    Sammy Finkelman (102c75)

  5. Dana (bb0678) — 7/22/2019 @ 1:06 pm

    Dana, this is Florida. Parents having little or no input is par for the course.

    kishnevi (496414)

  6. I can see where this is going.

    Proposed New Law: “Any person who has taken more than X number of ‘mental health days,’ as defined in Ore. Stat. ####, Sec. ##, is divested of his or her right to possess firearms or ammunition. This evidences a prima facie showing that the individual poses a harm to his or her self, and/or to others. Any law enforcement entity, as defined by Ore. Stat. ####, Sec. ##, or an educational institution, as defined by Ore. Stat. ####, Sec. ##, or a medical professional, as defined by Ore. Stat. ####, Sec. ##, or any friend, acquaintance, or family member may initiate an ex parte action to divest the individual of his or her right to possess firearms or ammunition. The prima facie showing is subject to a rebuttal presumption that the individual poses a threat to his or herself, and/or to others. The affected individual must request a hearing within 20 days of service of the ex parte order, and must serve the individual(s) or entity(ies) that initiated the action. If the affected individual does not timely request a hearing, or the court finds that the affected individual did exceed X number of ‘mental health days,’ as defined by Ore. Stat. ####, Sec. ##, the affected individual is divested of his or her right to possess firearms or ammunition, until such time as the affected individual is adjudicated as competent in a probate proceeding.”

    Advocaat (33a09d)

  7. I can imagine a similar law in, say, Sparta. Where youths are dying from malnutrition, so a law is promoted that would allow youths a certain number of mouthfuls of food to be taken per week:

    Opponents: But they can just steal the food, as they have always done!

    felipe (023cc9)

  8. Advocaat (33a09d) — 7/22/2019 @ 1:28 pm

    You were so close. But, I think the preferred play is to create a new protected class with their own entitlements.

    felipe (023cc9)

  9. If you take a day off for mental health, aren’t you announcing to everyone that you are not mentally healthy? Isn’t that stigmatizing?

    Patricia (3363ec)

  10. Good point, Patricia. However, I can see that stigma morphing into a badge of honor…

    Dana (bb0678)

  11. Good thing I never realized how mentally messed-up I was in college. Otherwise I might have missed a class or two.

    Radegunda (f133c3)

  12. Wonder how much of this is from being taught their country is a big pile of white, patriarchy racism, that emotions > rational thought, that they’ll never be able to fend for themselves and that the world will end in the near future from climate change.

    harkin (0f62bd)

  13. Sorry. You’re all wrong. The purpose of this law is to make Indianans feel better about being boycotted by Oregonians.

    nk (dbc370)

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