PA lawmaker introduces bill requiring children to have mental health screen before attending school

PA lawmaker introduces bill requiring children to have mental health screen before attending school

PITTSBURGH — A state lawmaker wants children to undergo a mental health screening to be a requirement before attending school.

Children already have to receive a physical before attending school and a mental health screening is something Families Touched by Suicide said could help save lives.

“The idea is to just give parents information and let parents make decisions like they would for any physical issue. We just don’t see a distinction between the physical health needs of a young person and the mental health needs,” State Rep. Dan Miller (D) said.

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Miller recently introduced a billing Harrisburg that would require students to have a mental health evaluation by the time they reach high school.

Frank Rizzo lost his 23-year-old son Joshua, who suffered from depression, after he took his own life last year. Since then, Rizzo has been advocating for better care for those dealing with mental illness.

“I know he didn’t want to hurt himself. It wasn’t his doing. He didn’t plan on this. He loved his family,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo said that the bill might not have saved his son, but is one he believes can help save others.

“You need somebody to help you with it,” Rizzo said.

The bill would have an “opt out” clause for parents who do not want their child to be evaluated, but Miller believes sparking conversation among families could have a major impact.

The bill is awaiting a hearing in the House.