Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Proposal to increase mental health access in public schools advances

A mental health crisis is brewing in Minnesota and it could worsen.

Only an estimated one-third of high school students feel they can cope with the stress in their lives, public data suggests.

But starting early to identify problems among students would help take the necessary corrective steps to improve their health and well-being, said Rep. Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven).

She sponsors HF3634 that would require mental health screening services in K-12 public schools. It also would provide investments to hire student mental health support staff — school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors, and chemical dependency counselors — to do screenings and would require parents be notified when screenings indicate a potential health condition.

Parents would be given notice before a student participates in mental health screening and could decline the screening.

The bill, which has no Senate companion, was approved 11-7 Wednesday by the House Education Policy Committee and sent to the House Education Finance Committee.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the crisis by forcing students to stay indoors increasing their anxiety as screen-time took precedence over human interaction, said Christopher Prokosch, a medical student at the University of Minnesota who has worked with young students.

The isolation, anxiety and stress harmed their mental health. Adolescents face unique mental health challenges, and early screenings will help identify and take care of those struggling, Prokosch said.

For many students, school is a place they look for solutions to their problems, said Jin Bang, a senior at Minnetonka High School. She came to learn about mental health issues, such as clinical depression and anxiety, in school and feels schools would be an ideal place to start offering mental health screenings.

She cited a 2020 study that found an estimated 60% of adolescents nationally with major depressive episodes didn’t receive treatment the year before. About 66% of adults did receive treatment. That suggests adolescents’ mental concerns are often overlooked, or identified, if at all, too late to be of much use. The bill would help bring a positive change with early screenings, she said.

Rep. Peggy Scott (R-Andover) expressed concern about the safety of potential student screening data, and suggested parents should have an opt-in option instead of opting out.

Related Articles

Priority Dailies

House passes tax package that includes rebate checks, $1 billion in new revenues
Rep. Aisha Gomez and House Majority Leader Jamie Long talk during a break in the May 20 debate on HF1938, the tax finance and policy bill. (Photo by Catherine Davis) Is it the largest tax cut in Minnesota history? Or the biggest tax hike the state has ever experienced? Could it be both? That’s the crux of the debate about the conference ...
House passes finalized cannabis legalization bill, sends it to Senate
A supporter of cannabis legalization demonstrates in front of the Capitol in 2021. The House repassed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, as amended in conference committee, May 18 and sent HF100 to the Senate. (House Photography file photo) The House gave the green light to adult-use recreational cannabis Thursday. “The day has finally arrived. Today is the day that we are going to vote here in the House for th...

Minnesota House on Twitter