— Building on what she learned at the Safe Schools seminar in January, Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) will host a hearing about how schools can better identify and treat kids with mental health needs.
The hearing, to be co-hosted by Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), will take place on Thursday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m., at the Washington Crossing United Methodist Church, 1895 Wrightstown Road in Washington Crossing.
Thomas and Kenyatta crafted House Bill 1622
, also known as Phillip’s Law, after an 11-year-old boy in Rep. Kenyatta’s district was bullied in school and took his life after he was unable to reach the school’s guidance counselor that fateful day. Unfortunately, the counselor was dealing with an influx of students and could not help Phillip before the end of the day.
House Bill 1622 would require the Department of Education to investigate the number of mental health professionals in schools in order to make recommendations on how to increase the number of school mental health professionals we need to meet nationally accepted standards.
“The Pennridge School District released the results of an anonymous survey of its students that revealed 40 students from the class of 2020 had attempted suicide one or more times in the previous years,” Thomas said. “They also reported an increase in suicide attempts from 3% to 4% among the district’s sixth-graders.”
In January, Thomas hosted a presentation by the U.S. Secret Service for local educators, law enforcement, and EMS to update community officials on the newest Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center report on targeted school violence in the United States.
The assessment found that most attackers had experienced psychological, behavioral or developmental symptoms, and most were victims of bullying.
“Mental health is an issue that does not discriminate,” Thomas said. “It affects all ages, races, genders and classes. Chances are that each of us knows an individual who has struggled with mental health issues, and we all hope that those close to us would be able to get the necessary assistance in times of desperation. Unfortunately, as many as 60% of students do not receive the treatment they need due to stigma and lack of access to services.”
Watch Thomas’ video on the hearing here
Representative Wendi Thomas
178th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster