Minding Your Health

New Texas Bill could make students undergo mental health evaluations

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Hollywood’s Bleeding
December 10, 2019

A new piece of legislation has been proved in attempts to help students who may need mental health help. The bill, which was proposed by state Rep. Jason Villalba, would force high school students to have regular mental health evaluations in order to remain in the general student population. 

House Bill 985 says that if any educator in a school district hears “about conduct of a student or a statement made by the student that would cause a reasonable person to believe the student intends or is likely to commit sexual violence against another or … serious bodily injury to self or others,” the school counselor must be notified.

Villalba said those individuals, and many other students in public schools, show signs early on of threatening behavior, and this bill would create an easier identification system to notify officials before anything could happen.

The proposed bill requires school officials, especially counselors on campus, to implement several new criteria and standards to be able to properly execute actions.

If a counselor determines that a student is likely to inflict self harm or hurt someone else, the principal would give a 30 day warning of suspension to the student and the family. The student’s family must bring the student to a mental health authority to undergo evaluation at the family’s own cost. How counselors and school admin can go about foreseeing the potential threat of students is still being debated. 

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, Villalba said the bill works to prevent “false positives” of students who are “just trying to get attention.”

“Let’s let the mental health professionals help those students,” Villalba said. “They will be able to tell us quite quickly whether situations where kids are just being kids, or if they’re actually capable of committing harm. We don’t want to remove those children unless it’s clear they have no intention of getting the type of screening we’re asking for.”

The bill is still being reviewed and questioned in terms of its purpose and effectiveness. If passed in this legislative session, the law would go into effect in District 114  and neighboring districts may soon adopt the policy as well. School districts, such as Conroe ISD, have already began discussions on the prompted bill.