LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — A new bipartisan law in Kentucky allows students to use mental health as a reason for an excused absence.
While many districts already allow a certain number of unexcused absences, health experts said this is a victory for reducing the stigma surrounding mental health care.
Under the bill, each Kentucky school district’s student attendance policy must include provisions for excused absences due to a student’s mental health or behavioral status. Supporters of the bill say it will help students relieve the stress of the pandemic.
The draft law does not make any changes regarding the number of excused absences that are allowed.
Dr. Stephen Taylor, with UofL Health – Peace Hospital, said it’s best to start talking about mental health before there’s a problem.
“Our job as parents is to create some kind of space that is safe to express thoughts and feelings,” Taylor said. “If we’re doing that for our kids, we’re going to have a lot more success in how they’re feeling, what’s going on, and more subtle changes as well.”
Taylor said behavioral changes in younger children can mean there’s a sign of mental stress going on and should warrant a conversation.
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