HB 18

Status: Signed by governor
Author: Rep. Four Price 
Sponsor: Sen. Kirk Watson
Summary: Extensive legislation regarding student mental health and mental health services available to students. In statute regarding the required contents of a district improvement plan, replaces "discipline management" with positive behavioral interventions and support, including best practices on grief-informed and trauma-informed care; also adds implementation of a comprehensive school counseling program.

Revises teacher continuing education requirement so that at least 25% of required training every 5 years includes (among other topics) instruction regarding educating diverse populations including special education, students with mental health or substance abuse issues, and students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The required training must also include how mental health conditions affect student learning and behavior. Required continuing education for principals and counselors is revised similarly.

Staff development provided by districts can include positive behavior intervention and support and must include training on suicide prevention, recognizing signs of mental health conditions and substance abuse, strategies for establishing and maintaining positive relationship among students, how grief and trauma affect student learning and behavior, and preventing/responding to bullying. 

Specifies that instruction in health, within the enrichment curriculum, includes both physical and mental health, including mental health conditions, substance abuse, skills to manage emotions, positive relationships, and responsible decision-making. Adds details about substance abuse issues to the required TEKS for health. Adds to the duties of the local school health advisory council (SHAC) that instruction in health education must include both physical and mental health concerns as well as substance abuse prevention and a comprehensive school counseling program. Adds counselors to the composition of the SHAC.

Requires districts to provide a statement to parents regarding whether each campus has a full-time nurse or full-time school counselor. 

Requires that the school counseling program conform to the most recent edition of the Texas Model for Comprehensive School Counseling Programs developed by TCA.

Requires the district to include in the student handbook and online a statement of policies promoting physical and mental health along with nearby resources.

Allows districts to employ or contract with nonphysician mental health professionals including a psychologist, registered nurse with a master's or doctoral degree in psychiatric nursing, licensed clinical social worker, professional counselor or marriage and family therapist.

Expands the coordinated health programs that TEA must make available to districts to include education and services related to both physical and mental health, as well as substance abuse.

Requires TEA in cooperation with the Health and Human Services Commission to develop guidelines for districts regarding partnering with a local mental health authority or with private mental health services to increase student access to mental health services, and obtaining mental health services through the medical assistance program in Chapter 32 of the Human Resources Code.

Requires that suicide prevention programs assist students in returning to school following treatment of a mental health concern or suicide attempt.

Requires (current law is permissive) that districts develop practices regarding mental health promotion and intervention, substance abuse prevention and suicide prevention, and adds that they must include procedures to support the return of a student to school following hospitalization or residential treatment for a mental health condition or substance abuse, and for suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. Postvention is defined as activities that promote healing necessary to reduce the risk of suicide by a person affected by the suicide of another. 

(Click here to return to the 2019 session bill summary page.)