Washington joins 11 other states that specifically allow students to take excused mental health days off. From Crosscut:
“Schools can now accept mental health symptoms in the definition of an excused absence, just as they do physical health symptoms. It formalizes allowing students to take days off to care for their mental health, including for counseling and behavioral health appointments.
The law does not allow students to excuse themselves, and each district will come up with its own requirements — for example, if a parent or doctor note will be needed to determine whether an absence is excused.”
One principal acknowledged,
“. . . it’s a change that’s been needed. ‘If a kid breaks their leg, we wouldn’t expect them to take part in PE. But I don’t think there’s an equivalent for a student with debilitating depression.'”
The new rule also enables schools to collect information on its overall mental health, which can inform how they might respond in other ways.
I’m not sure much more information is needed to conclude families, teachers, and administrators are woefully unprepared to adequately help students’ with their mental health challenges.
One of the real benefits about this is that I can require a doctor’s note when these are activated. Some parents are really reluctant to speak to their pediatrician about issues they really should be discussing.