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U. of Washington considering crisis hotlines on student ID cards

Washington state legislators are being joined by some University of Washington students to promote the addition of crisis hotlines to student ID cards issued by institutions in the state. Spearheaded by a proposed bill in the Washington state House of Representatives, first introduced last spring, the policy would see the contact information for resources like suicide hotlines printed on the backs of campus cards.

As reported by the University of Washington’s student publication, The Daily, printing crisis hotlines on the backs of student ID cards will hopefully provide an outlet for those grappling with mental health issues on college campuses. The list of contact numbers would likely include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as well as state and local crisis hotlines.

Washington’s HB 1735 focuses on behavioral health and encourages ID cards issued by state universities, community and technical colleges, to provide contact information for mental health services. The bill, which is yet to be passed into law, would require all new student identification cards issued to include information about suicide hotlines, emergency numbers, and behavioral health counseling services initially beginning with the 2019-20 academic year.

“I’m a little bit scratching my head about why the UW and other schools aren’t doing it without a legislative mandate,” says Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46), who helped to pen HB 1735. “This is, I think, a no-brainer. It dramatically increases the use of crisis lines and we know it’s a tool that will save lives.”

The state of Washington has already seen two of its most recognizable institutions implement the crisis hotline change to student ID cards. Gonzaga University’s ZAGCARD has already implemented the change. A private university, Gonzaga isn’t a state-funded institution, and is therefore not technically required to comply with the state mandate but university officials saw fit to support the measure nonetheless.

Washington State University has also implemented crisis hotlines to its CougarCards, printing the contact information for student wellness services unique to each of its campuses, along with after-hours crisis lines, Alternatives to Violence hotlines, Safe Rides, the Crisis Text Line and WSU campus police.

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