Student mental health considerations advanced

A bill that seeks to prioritize students’ mental health was advanced from general file March 5.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist03' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Carol Blood'>Sen. Carol Blood</a>
Sen. Carol Blood

Currently, a school may refer a child to the county attorney for truancy if the child has had more than 20 absences during the school year and a collaborative plan has not successfully resolved the child’s barriers to attendance.

LB751, sponsored by Bellevue Sen. Carol Blood, would add mental health as a recognized barrier to attendance for consideration as part of a collaborative plan.

Blood said the bill would acknowledge the need to treat an individual’s mental well-being the same as physical health.

“It’s a small, but much needed step to destigmatize mental health problems that many students face and a step forward toward addressing the alarming increase in the rate of suicide [among] Nebraska’s children,” she said.

North Platte Sen. Mike Groene expressed concerns about leaving a potentially suicidal student at home alone.

“Who is the person that is looking for the small signs that can prevent suicide,” he asked. “Are they better off at school where a mentor, teacher or counselor can take note of the situation?”

Senators voted 46-0 to advance the bill to select file.

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