ST. PAUL – Today, the Minnesota House Education Policy Committee discussed two proposals that increase mental health access for Minnesota students in K-12 public schools.
Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven) presented a bill requiring mental health screening services in Minnesota’s K-12 public schools. It also provides investments to hire mental health support staff, such as school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors and chemical dependency counselors to conduct these screenings. The measure also requires providing notice to parents if a student’s screening indicates a potential mental health condition.
“For students to have the opportunity to be healthy and thrive, it’s critical they have access to mental health resources,” said Rep. Morrison, a practicing physician. “By offering mental health screening to students, we can help connect families to resources so they can get their kids the care they deserve.”
Rep. Kaela Berg (DFL-Burnsville) discussed her legislation to require the employment of at least one full-time equivalent licensed school counselor in each K-12 public school building. It also requires school administrators to have at least two hours of mental illness training, including at least one hour of suicide prevention training and one additional hour on specified topics.
“Schools across the state have called for additional mental health and student aid resources, as the pandemic has taken a significant toll on the wellness and outcomes of our students,” said Rep. Berg. “The mental health of our students is paramount to their success and wellbeing, and it's time that we fully value this profession as a state and provide the means necessary to ensure every student has access to mental health services they need.”
Those who testified in support of the measures include: Keela Kuhlers, a school counselor at St. Paul Music Academy, Sam Larson, a school counselor employed at Pierz High School, Jin Bang, a high school senior attending Minnetonka High School, and Christopher Prokosch, a medical student studying at University of Minnesota.
Materials from today’s hearing can be found on the House Education Policy Committee’s website. Both bills have been re-referred to the House Education Finance Committee.