By Bob Katzen
This bill adds mental health of students to the current list of physical illnesses that qualify as a legitimate reason for a student’s absence from school. Under the bill, students who are absent due to mental or behavioral health will also be offered the opportunity to meet with a certified school counselor upon returning to school but will not be required to do so. Rep. Carol Doherty (D-Taunton) sponsored the legislation that was originally initiated and backed by the Class of 2021 at Oliver Ames High School in Easton.
“Mental health is just as important as physical health, and our students deserve the same level of understanding and accommodation for mental health symptoms,” said Doherty. “This bill will help ensure that students who are struggling with mental health symptoms are not penalized, and that they receive the support they need to succeed in school. State government must rise to meet the needs of our students, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the mental health crisis many face.”