WA legalizes mental health excusal

By on Friday, June 10th, 2022 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

OLYMPIA – Starting next school year, students in Washington state can be legally excused from school if they are experiencing symptoms related to mental illness or challenges to their mental health. The excused absence also applies for counseling, mental health wellness and behavioral health treatment.

Under House Bill 1834, a doctor’s note or medical diagnosis are not required for the excusal. The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

After hearing from young people across the state of Washington, the legislature recognized that students’ mental health is a component of their physical health and that their mental health can affect their ability to learn. The legislature found that school districts are not consistently recognizing student absences for mental health reasons as excused.

The bill instructs the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop rules regarding mental health absences that districts can adopt.

Oregon passed a similar law in 2019.