Rule bill to support youth mental and physical health clears House 

Olympia – Today, the Washington state House of Representatives passed HB 1664 from Rep. Alicia Rule (D-Blaine), to bring more counselors, nurses and social workers to schools. This bill was developed in response to the devastating toll the pandemic has taken on youth.  

“In all my years of being a social worker, I’ve never seen children’s mental health this bad,” said Rule. “Teachers, parents, and staff have made heroic efforts to support kids in these challenging times. But there’s only so much we can do when our daily lives don’t look the same as they did two years ago.” 

A U.S. Surgeon General’s report released in early December detailed how children’s mental health has been declining for years and the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue. The report states that emergency room visits for suicide attempts rose 51% for adolescent girls and 4% for boys in early 2021 as compared to the same period in 2019.  

“This moment in time is challenging for so many families, but it’s also an opportunity to act on what we know to be true — children’s physical and emotional growth is just as important as what they learn in textbooks,” said Rule. “It’s time to recover together, heal together and together, give our kids the support they need to be happy and healthy.” 

HB 1664 significantly increases the allocation for school nurses, counselors, psychologists over the course of the next three years. It comes out of years of work through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Governor’s Office, education stakeholders and members of the House Education Committee. The bill passed 73-23 and now moves onto the Senate for consideration.