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House agrees with Pfaff that school safety should include mental health protections

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INDIANAPOLIS – Thanks to State Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute), initiatives to make Indiana schools safer now include efforts to provide mental health services for students.

House members approved an amendment offered by Pfaff that would allow school corporations to use money from the state’s secured school fund to provide school-based mental health services to students. The amendment was included in House Bill 1004, which continues the state’s efforts to deal with situations where students, teachers, staff, and administrators are at risk in schools. House Bill 1004 now is eligible for final consideration in that chamber.

“I think we all can agree that school safety can and should be a priority for lawmakers this session,” Pfaff said. “As a teacher, I have seen the trauma that can result in a classroom, and I would hope that we would look at solutions that go beyond installing metal detectors or arming teachers. The amendment I offered today can make it easier for schools to get the funds that would enable them to make common sense improvements, and addresses the one area that seems to have been missing from this entire debate: the mental health of our students.

“We cannot have a conversation about school safety without talking about mental health and social emotional wellness,” she continued. “Preventive measures like investments in mental health are just as important as providing physical equipment in preventing school violence. If we are able to detect problems ahead of time, we will have a better chance of reducing the risks of violence down the road.

“I am pleased that my colleagues agree with the importance of preserving and protecting the mental health of Hoosier students. I look forward to continuing this conversation throughout the rest of this session,” Pfaff concluded.

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