NYS lawmaker wants to let students take ‘mental health days’

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A New York lawmaker wants to give students in the state the option to take “mental health” days off from school.

State Senator Brad Hoylman (D, NY-27) introduced new legislation on Thursday establishing mental or behavioral health issues as permitted reasons for a student’s absence from school. Currently, New York law allows schools to develop their own attendance policies. The new legislation would require the NYS Education Department to implement the “mental health day” policy across the state.

According to Senator Hoylman, the number of children treated for suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts nearly doubled between 2007 and 2015. Nearly 4,500 children were hospitalized for self-harm in New York in 2016 alone.

“We need to recognize suicide and self-harm among young New Yorkers as the major public health crisis that it is,” said Senator Hoylman. “…demolish the stigma around mental health care, and do everything within our power to help kids who are struggling seek treatment.”

Dr. John Garruto, President of the New York Association of School Psychologists, said while it is important to bring mental health issues on par with physical health as a valid reason for school absences, schools must also have appropriate mental health professionals to meet the social and emotional needs of students.

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