Voices’ Blog

2020 Legislation Impacting Children’s Mental Health Services (Updated: 2/6/20)

Posted:  -  By: Ashley Airington

This year, legislators filed a record number of bills–3506 to be exact! All of these bills must be considered by the February 11 “crossover” deadline. That means days and nights are spent discussing bills on the Senate and House Floors, and hearing and presenting bills in Senate and House committees and subcommittees. As we inch closer to that  “Crossover” deadline, here are bills of interest that directly or indirectly impact our children’s mental health system.


Mental Health First Aid Training for School Employees 

Several versions of this bill have emerged in both the House and Senate. Mental Health First Aid training for youth is an evidence-based, 8-hour, in-person training that teaches adults how to identify and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders among youth.

Currently, HB74 (Kory) directs the Department of Education to adopt and implement policies that require each school employee deemed to be in need of such training to complete an online mental health awareness training program at least one time.

SB619 (Deeds) takes a slightly different approach, requiring that every person seeking initial licensure, complete a Mental Health First Aid training, or similar program, and every person seeking renewal of a license complete an online module on mental health developed or approved by the Department of Education.


Excused absences for mental and behavioral health needs in public elementary and secondary school students 

HB308 (Hope) requires the Department of Education to establish and distribute guidelines for the granting of an excused absence from school to a student due to his mental or behavioral health and requires any student who is absent from school due to his mental or behavioral health to be granted an excused absence, subject to such guidelines.

  • 01/29/20  House: Reported from Education with substitute (13-Y 8-N)
  • 02/04/20  Bill passed the House (60-Y 38-N)


Mental Health Break Space Created in Public Schools 

HB40 (Samirah) directs the Department of Education to require each public school to create and maintain a mental health break space within each public School building.

  • 01/27/20  House: Continued to General Assembly Session 2021 by voice vote


Banning Conversion Therapy for Youth

SB245 (Surovell) & HB386 (Hope) prohibits any licensed clinician or health care provider who provides counseling to children or youth from engaging in conversion therapy, as defined in the bill, with any person under 18 years of age and provides that such counseling constitutes unprofessional conduct and is grounds for disciplinary action. The bill provides that no state funds shall be expended for the purpose of conducting conversion therapy, referring a person for conversion therapy, extending health benefits coverage for conversion therapy, or awarding a grant or contract to any entity that conducts conversion therapy or refers individuals for conversion therapy.

This bill has been presented by the above patrons for many years. For the very first time, this bill has received widespread support and passed in committee in both the House and Senate. This is a huge victory for kids!

SB245: 01/21/20  Senate: Passed Senate (21-Y 18-N)

HB386: 02/03/20  House: VOTE: Passage (66-Y 27-N)


Feasibility study of implementing Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation 

As we blogged about two weeks ago, HJ51 (Sickles/Hanger)is bill that Voices worked on with patrons, state agencies and early childhood mental health advocates.

This resolution  asks DOE, DBHDS, and DSS  to jointly study the feasibility of developing a statewide early childhood mental health consultation model available to all early care and education programs serving children birth to five years of age. The above agencies will convene a workgroup comprised of national, state and local experts to study and identify the following:

  • Effective models of early childhood mental health consultation;
  • The appropriate state agency to scale up a statewide early childhood mental health consultation program;
  • Funding streams to support statewide implementation;
  • A plan for scaling up the early childhood mental health workforce that builds off existing resources;

Last week, ECE and ECMH advocates joined forces to advocate for this resolution. We met with Rules committee members, including: Del. Bagby, Del. Mullin, Del. Simon, Del. Herring, Del. Ward & Senator Hanger. We were also so thankful to have First Lady, Mrs. Northam join us in the morning as we shared why early childhood mental health consultation was so important.

UPDATE: 2/3/20 House: Reported from House Rules, Studies subcommittee (4-Y, 0-N)


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