A bill that would require a mental health exam for every student in grades 6 through 12 each academic year is up for consideration in the Oregon state legislature.
Legislative Concept 2890 would require school districts and public charter schools to conduct “mental health wellness checks” annually on every student in grades 6 through 12, Truth in American Education observes.
According to Mental Health America, Oregon is ranked as the state with the highest prevalence of mental illness. Additionally, the state earned a ranking of 16 out of 51 on Mental Health America’s “Access to Care” map.
Statesman Journal reports Oregon has a “lack of child psychiatrists and school counselors,” a situation that “leaves families waiting for months to get help.”
The bill, however, does not specify who would conduct the mental health screenings, who would pay for the exams, and what the costs would be to conduct them.
The report continues:
[The bill] also does not specify when the evaluations would need to be completed or how the collected information would be used, other than the information would be “evaluated by a qualified counselor or mental health professional.”
A parent or adult student would be able to excuse a student from undergoing a wellness check by completing a form and submitting it to the school.
A 2015 report at the National Institutes of Mental Health, indicates that about one in five adults in the United States have a diagnosable mental health disorder and one in five children of ages 13-18 currently have, or has had, a “seriously debilitating mental disorder.”
Statesman Journal reports that Salem-Keizer Public School has a rate of mental disorders that is closer to one in four. The school district has partnered with Trillium Family Services, a large mental and behavioral health care provider in Oregon, to assist with mental health services.