Arizona students will get mental health breaks, if bill in state legislature passes

Students across Arizona could be allowed to have excused absences due to mental or behavioral health, if a bill is passed in the state legislature.

SB 1444, which is sponsored by State Sen. Sean Bowie and co-sponsored by 14 other state lawmakers, will allow the state's Department of Education to identify an "absence due to the mental or behavioral health of a pupil" as an excused absence, and will also allow the department to adopt guidelines to determine what constitutes as a mental or behavioral health break for students.

According to current Arizona Department of Education guidelines, an excused absence is defined as an absence due to illness, a doctor's appointment, bereavement, family emergencies, and out-of-school exemptions.