Excused School Mental Health Days Progress
by: Mohammad Shedeed
After writing a proclamation that recognized Teen Mental Health Day on May 23rd, throughout the Commonwealth of PA, a group of teens from the Pennsylvania Youth Advocacy Network are looking to continue advocating for mental health in the form of school excused mental health days. A group of teens from the 2022 advocacy series worked to distribute surveys about what mental health in schools looks like for students, educators, parents, and administrators—collecting over 200 responses from across PA. Over the summer, a group of teens was selected to be part of a Leadership Committee to help institute school excused mental health days. This group created a social media initiative where students could tell their stories with mental health through creative means. Since the school year commenced, the high school working group introduced earlier in the newsletter, met every Saturday morning to expedite the process of getting legislation introduced in the Pennsylvania State Legislature. If you are a high school student who would like to join the working group sign up here. First, we observed the bills of other states and noted aspects we liked from that legislation that we would like included in a PA bill. Recently our team met with the Executive Director of the Senate Education Committee, Cheryl Kleiman, to discuss the process of creating and passing a bill and advice for getting started. The next steps the team is planning are to speak with state representatives/senators and find a sponsor for the bill. We are in the process of getting additional feedback around excused mental health days and building on existing efforts like those of Senator Schwank. We want to hear your feedback here and you are welcome to share this link: https://forms.gle/gwy5dgBpgSmjUh6BA to help us spread the word.