New law recognizes students who miss school for mental health care by not punishing them

By Ramona du Houx

No longer with children with behavioral or mental issues be punished for them when they have to miss school because of them in Maine. Attendence records are important in Maine schools, but until now have discriminated against children with these conditions.

Maine State Rep. Joyce “Jay” McCreight, D-Harpswell, introduced a bill that is now a new law that will ensure schools treat mental and behavioral health-related absences the same way they treat all other health-related absences. 

McCreight’s bill, LD 1855, was signed by Gov. Janet Mills last week.

“With the passage of this bill, we are further reducing the stigma of mental health care and substance use disorder,” said Rep. McCreight. “I’m hopeful that more students and parents will feel like it is okay to take the time needed to seek care. Thank you to all the members of the public for their outpouring of support, and thanks also to my colleagues in the Legislature and to Governor Mills and her staff for making this bill a reality.”

McCreight’s measure also provides greater clarity to school communities on how to support children dealing with difficult mental health experiences.

 The new law will go into effect later this year, 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.

McCreight, House chair of the Legislature’s Marine Resources Committee and a member of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, is serving her third term in the Maine House and represents Harpswell, West Bath and northeastern Brunswick.