Behavioral health points of contact, training program approved

Lawmakers passed a measure April 12 intended to improve access to mental and behavioral health services for Nebraska students.

Sen. Jen Day
Sen. Jen Day

LB852, introduced by Omaha Sen. Jen Day, requires each school district to designate at least one employee in each school building who has knowledge of community behavioral health service providers and other resources for students and families.

The behavioral health point of contact will coordinate access to behavioral health services for students and families and facilitate access to services at a student’s school during the school day and as approved by a student’s parent or guardian.

A point of contact may be an administrator, a school nurse, a school psychologist or another designated person affiliated with a particular school building or other division.

The bill requires the state Department of Education to provide each district with a registry of state and local behavioral health resources for students and families by geographic area. It also requires the registry to be updated at least annually and include both school-based services and those accessible outside of school.

Each district will report its designated behavioral health points of contact to the department before the beginning of each school year.

LB852 includes provisions of LB912, introduced by Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln. They require the department to create a mental health first aid training program for teachers and other school personnel employed by a school district or educational service unit participating in a State Board of Education grant program.

The training will be provided by trainers who are certified by a national organization for behavioral health and will include the skills, resources and knowledge necessary to help connect students with appropriate local mental health care services.

Teachers and other school personnel also will learn how to safely de-escalate crisis situations, recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness and refer a student to mental health services in the early stages of the development of a mental disorder.

LB852 passed on a vote of 36-10.

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