MARION COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a bigger push to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.
A high school sophomore in Marion County is one step closer to seeing her vision for that become reality.
"I've always been passionate about mental health, especially after the pandemic and dealing with some myself," said Amira Bowman, a high school sophomore.
Bowman worked with state lawmakers to bring House Bill 44 to reality. It requires schools to allow mental health as a reason for an excused absence.
"It's another sickness," Bowman said. "And you can't help it and it's not the person's fault. They can't help that they have it. They shouldn't have repercussions for it."
Bowman, along with two other Kentucky students, brought this to the attention of lawmakers. That includes Rep. Bobby McCool (R-Van Lear), who is one of the sponsors of the bill.
"I want to show the state, and the world that our students are so very bright and they have great ideas," McCool said.
"We thought of it in separate ways, which really goes to show how powerful it was," Bowman said.
She feels it is time to cut down on the stigma surrounding mental health. She sees the toll this has in her own school community.
"I've always dreamt big," Bowman said. "And I knew there were students who were more than just in my county who needed this help."
Part of her dreaming big comes her decision to be a voice for others like her.
"I'm just really proud to be able to say I had the opportunity to do this," Bowman said. "I know those who are struggling to the point they couldn't speak up for themselves and I'm proud just to be able to speak up for them."
The bill passed the House unanimously. The next step is the Senate.