Identifying the Unidentifiable: How Washington’s Public Education System Can Aid in the Prevention and Detection of Childhood Mental Illness
This Comment explores three states’ approaches to mental health screenings for earlier identification of impaired mental health functioning in educational settings. The State of Washington has yet to pass any legislation aimed at instituting a mental health schema within its public schools. This Comment argues that the Washington legislature should enact children’s mental health legislation that reflects an integration of the three state positions. Specifically, Washington should adopt a cooperative and transparent mental health scheme for public schools that includes in-school screening, informed and active parental consent, educator training, and emotional health curriculum because it preserves parental rights while also protecting the well-being of mentally ill children.
Part II of this Comment discusses both the current state of children’s mental health and the concepts of prevention and detection. It emphasizes the significance of educating teachers, implementing emotional health curricula in public schools, and utilizing mental health screenings as early detection devices. It also provides a summary of the current state of children’s mental health law as it relates to Washington’s public education system. Part III describes the federal government’s attitude toward children’s mental health and reviews federal statutes pertaining to the distribution of school surveys in public schools. Part IV explains the development of the constitutional right to parent and its application to children’s mental health. It also discusses the tension between parents and schools on privacy issues such as distributing screenings to students. Part V presents children’s mental health legislation from three states: Illinois, Utah, and Connecticut. This Part introduces not only the substance of the various legislative measures but also the radically dif- ferent positions taken. Part VI recommends that Washington adopt a cooperative and transparent system that includes in-school screening, informed and active parental consent, educator training, and emotional health curricula.
Alexis L. Toma, Identifying the Unidentifiable: How Washington’s Public Education System Can Aid in the Prevention and Detection of Childhood Mental Illness, 33 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 255 (2009).