Interim: Mental Health

This week, WSSDA’s strategic advocacy team launched the first Leg Reps Learn of the 2021 interim. These webinars will be offered at no cost to WSSDA members on topics related to WSSDA’s advocacy efforts.

Leg Reps Learn

The first webinar of the 2021 interim focused on mental health issues, and offered the perspectives of two mental health champions. View the webinar to see what they shared.

Mental health legislation

In the 2021 legislative session, multiple bills were introduced related to mental health, some of which were specific to K-12 environments. Of the bills introduced, several passed, including:

In addition, the legislature funded an additional half-time school counselor for all high poverty schools, a part of a permanently revised prototypical school funding allocation.

Advocating for mental health

While progress was made in the 2021 session, we have heard from many of our members about the existing and continuing need for mental health resources for students. Based on WSSDA’s existing legislative and permanent positions on school and student safety related to mental health supports, a more significant change to the prototypical school funding model will be necessary. 

The Staffing Enrichment Workgroup

In 2018, the legislature directed OSPI to convene a technical workgroup, which included representatives of WSSDA, to review the staffing enrichments to the program of basic education detailed in section 904 of EHB 2242.

The Staffing Enrichment Workgroup recommendations include several phases for changes to the formula, starting with an emphasis on school safety and mental health in Phase 1 (page 19).

“The Workgroup recommends providing for school districts to hire the social and emotional health staff best positioned to serve their students by calculating compliance across the broad category of social and emotional health staff.”

How to advocate: Share the key points with your legislators

To advocate for this change, WSSDA encourages you to review the above report, especially Phase 1 recommendations, and share the key points with your legislators in the coming months. Most specifically: 

  • What does the current allocation fund for mental health supports in your school district?
  • How is that funding used to advance student wellbeing?
  • What are the gaps in providing mental health supports?
  • What is needed to address those gaps?

Need help?

If you need help scheduling a meeting with your legislator, contact Marissa Rathbone, Director of Strategic Advocacy, at 360-481-5842.

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