Last year, gun violence shook communities in Marysville and on Whidbey Island, Washington. Some lawmakers in Olympia said it was the result of inadequate mental health resources.
After a debate Tuesday, the Washington state House passed a bill to address and improve students’ access to those resources.
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self is a Democrat from Mukilteo. She said gun violence isn’t the only problem. Her daughter had two peers die from suicide in high school.
“And as a parent, even though I’m a mental health counselor, I don’t even know how to explain to her why, at 15, someone gives up hope and decides that life isn’t worth living,” Ortiz-Self said.
The legislation would require schools to provide at least one hour per month for non-academic staff to work on mental health issues. A task force to evaluate schools’ needs for counselors, social workers, and psychologists would also be created.
The efforts would largely focus on recognition and prevention of violence, suicide, and substance abuse among students.
The House passed the bill by 17 votes, and it will now move to the Senate for consideration.