When Oregon students go back to school this year, they’ll be able to take mental health days without risking an unexcused absence as the result of a new law that was proposed by a group of high schoolers.
The students behind the measure say it’s meant to change the stigma around mental health in a state that has some of the United States’ highest suicide rates. According to data from Oregon’s Health Authority, nearly 17 percent of eighth-graders (13 and 14-year-olds) have reported seriously contemplating taking their lives in the past 12 months.
Until now, schools there were only obliged to excuse absences related to physical illnesses. The new legislation is hoping to encourage kids to come out about their emotional struggles and challenge the way society approaches mental health issues.