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Suicide prevention line on public school ID's?: Iowa lawmakers say yes

Iowa State Capitol (Photo: Caroline Cummings){p}{/p}
Iowa State Capitol (Photo: Caroline Cummings)

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Another bill under consideration at the Statehouse could help save lives for young people struggling with a mental health crisis.

Earlier this month, a bill was introduced by the Committee on Education that would require public schools to include the National Suicide Prevention Line on student identification cards.

Mental illness experts say it's a step in the right direction.

"We need those conversations in high schools, with the students as well as with the educators," said the Executive Director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Linn County, Dr. Mona McCalley-Whitters.

She says having the number for the suicide prevention line on student ID cards addresses the crisis.

"I think it shows the awareness that we have a problem here and rather than attacking it in little pieces, we're going to address it state-wide and potentially across the United States," said Dr. McCalley-Whitters.

Other states like Nebraska and Wisconsin are also proposing similar legislation.

"High school students don't necessarily want to say, 'I have mental illness' because of the perhaps bullying, harassment or just feeling different," explained Dr. McCalley-Whitters.

Emily Blomme, Chief Executive Officer Foundation 2, a local crisis services provider who is part of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network sent a statement to CBS2/Fox28 News:

This is an exciting step in helping youth access mental health support. We expect this bill to go through a variety of iterations to ensure that best practice is included in this important concept.

A subcommittee of lawmakers did approve the bill Tuesday and Dr. McCalley-Whitters says to keep talking to your elected officials.

"Having something as simple as that number on an ID card, I believe can make a big difference," shared Dr. McCalley-Whitters.

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Governor Kim Reynolds is asking for funding for mental health training for teachers again this year, and lawmakers will consider long-term funding for new mental health services.

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