National News

NC law requires students to undergo mental health screening

Annual facility safety assessments also mandated

RALEIGH, N.C. - As mental health problems among children increase, a new North Carolina law will attempt to tackle the issue head on.

House Bill 75 requires all public students across the state to undergo mental health screening, in the name of school safety.

"I think it's better that you catch it at an early age," said parent Kellena Bradford.

The newly-signed law requires each district to create a mental health crisis response plan made up of the SBI, local law enforcement, and school administrators to identify students who may pose a threat to themselves or others.

It also requires a facility assessment once a year to make sure public schools are safe and secure in the event of a major threat, like an active shooter.

"It's an effort to keep our boys and girls safe," said Rep. John Torbett (R).

Representative Torbett introduced the bill, with a great deal of support.

"We're trying to get to a point where we don't have to worry about it anymore," said Torbett.

Governor Cooper signed HB75 into law, which provides $91 million immediately. It's not impacted by the budget stalemate because lawmakers drafted it as a separate bill.

The money will cover resources in schools like psychologists and psychiatrists.

"You never know what kids are going through now days. Their minds are just everywhere now," said parent Elijah Hampton.

With suicide, depression and anxiety rates skyrocketing, youth mental health advocates say the resources are much-needed.

"It is so intense for kids, that they're reaching for things at levels they've never reached for," said youth therapist Tim Ringgold.

Torbett believes lawmakers are doing everything they possibly can to prevent a tragedy from happening.

The House School Safety Committee in which Torbett sits on, is now tasked with creating security recommendations and changes for public universities, including the UNC system.


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