Utah bill would require annual student mental health screenings, allow state interventions

A bill under consideration Friday at the Capitol would require the Utah Board of Education and the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to develop or select a mental health screening tool that would be given to every Utah student annually.

Rep. Steve Eliason's (R - District 45) House Bill 323 would also require the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health to collect, store, and analyze data on every Utah student. The screenings would be done online.

The agency would then work with the State Board of Education to make recommendations for interventions with students based on the results of the mental health screening.

The bill does not specify exact parameters for the mental health screening tool but the bill does state the tool:

  • Is age-appropriate for each grade in which the screening tool is administered
  • Is administered and completed online unless other accommodations are requested by a parent or student
  • Screens for the mental health conditions determined by the state board and division
  • Is an effective tool for identifying whether a student has a mental health condition that requires intervention.

School districts have the option to opt-out each year as long as they explain why in a letter.

The bill would collect and store student data by the school district, school, gender, age, grade, and student identification number. Student names would not be stored with the data.