By Melissa Gaglione, June 4, 2019
AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) – Amarillo Representative Four Price’s House Bill 18 was signed by Governor Abbott on Monday and is intended to give additional mental health services to students in Texas public schools. “Mental illness, 50 percent starts before the age of 14 and 75 percent starts before the age of 21,” said Laura Street, the chairman of the Panhandle Behavioral Health Alliance. “That tells you that we need to zero in on our youth, our children and make sure that their access to care comes early and that we are able to prevent a lot of the mental illnesses that we see as adults.” School districts are responsible for offering mental health and suicide prevention curricula. The curricula and training include conflict resolution, violence and substance and abuse programs. “To training for employees, not just teachers and superintendents, but also to staff and for counseling services for programs that are related to the education of students and teachers and staff,” said Street. The Amarillo Education Association says it will provide tools for teachers to help identify students with mental illness. “When considering the needs of public school students, mental health is a priority because if students are affected by trauma, they are not going to be able to learn in the classroom until we can help them cope with whatever trauma they’ve experienced,” said Aaron Phillips, the presidents of the Amarillo Education Association. “And so, by training public school employees, teachers, counselors, and staff further in the mental health needs of our students, we can ensure that they have more opportunities for success.” The new law will be in effect on December 1, 2019.