House passes Daley bill expanding mental health care training for school staff

HARRISBURG, June 5 – A bill that would require high school coaches to receive training on student mental health passed the House Tuesday, announced the measure’s sponsor, state Rep. Mary Jo Daley.

House Bill 1367 would help ensure that students, parents and guardians, athletic coaches and extracurricular advisers are all made aware of the availability of mental health services within a school and local community. The bill would also require that athletic coaches receive mental health awareness training similar to training required of other school personnel.

A recent study surveying more than 10,000 coaches found only 18% of youth coaches feel highly confident in their ability to link athletes to mental health resources, and 67% want more training and information on the subject.

“School professionals already serve a big role in a student’s life, so it only makes sense that we provide critical, lifesaving training to everyone we can on school grounds. For when things are not OK, we need to know that every adult is available to identify and take the steps to help a student find solid ground,” said Daley, D-Montgomery. “It takes training to know when and how to be there for a student especially at a time when nearly half of America’s youth are, in fact, struggling with their mental health.”

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Direct the Pennsylvania Department of Education to revise standards for health, safety, and physical education to address student mental health awareness.
  • Task PDE and the Pennsylvania Department of Health with identifying model curriculum on mental health awareness. 
  • Require schools to notify students and their parents, athletic staff and extracurricular advisers of available mental health services twice each school year. 
  • Require PIAA to include student mental health awareness in its training starting in 2025-26.
  • Direct the school entity’s student assistance program to provide information on mental health services to a student’s parent when the student’s participation in a school-sponsored athletic or extracurricular activity is interrupted.

Daley held a Capitol news conference on the bill in May. It can be viewed here. During the event, student athletes and coaches explained why it’s important that coaches receive mental health training.

“There is a misbelief that coaches don’t want this training on mental health. That is simply untrue,” said Miranda Jenkins, who is a social worker and swim coach at York Suburban. “As a coach, I am always learning and growing. It is important to be able to understand your athletes and what they are going through.”

“I stand today before you as someone who made a comeback from an injury that felt like the end of the world, and it likely would have been if not for the support of my coaches,” said Brynn Neidgh, a student-athlete at York Suburban who spoke in support of the bill.

“The overwhelmingly majority of coaches want this training,” said Mekkai Williams, a Temple student and mental health advocate who advocated for H.B. 1367. “There are already mandatory trainings for physical health. Why should mental health, which is equally important, be any different?”