Legislation recently re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would fund on-site mental health services for youth in schools nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
The Mental Health Services for Students Act originally passed the House in September but was never considered by the Senate.
Under the bill, $200 million in grant funding would be made available to 100 public schools nationwide to provide on-site mental health services for students in a culturally and linguistically appropriate way.
The goal is to treat mental health issues before they escalate and to educate the school community on the warning signs and symptoms of mental illness.
The grant program is patterned after a 2001 California pilot program that began with four schools and now includes 35 throughout Los Angeles County.
Reps. John Katko (R-NY), Congressional Mental Health Caucus co-chairman, and Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), caucus co-chairwoman, re-introduced the bill along with 61 cosponsors.
“I’m proud to reintroduce the Mental Health Services for Student Act, bipartisan legislation that would fund on-site or virtual mental health services for youth in schools across the country,” Katko said. “In recent years, we’ve seen a troubling rise in suicide rates and mental illness among children. And during the ongoing pandemic, conditions have only worsened as students are forced to adapt to remote learning and social distancing.”