Washington, D.C. – Yesterday at a U.S. Senate Finance Committee Hearing, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) talked about the importance of supporting kids’ mental health and the critical aid she’s delivered to Nevada’s schools during this pandemic to help them stay open and support their students. Cortez Masto is also working in the Senate on legislation to increase mental health resources for students, including telehealth and peer-to-peer counseling programs.
“I hear every day from Nevadans that one of the most critical ways we can protect our kids’ mental health is by keeping our schools open,” said Senator Cortez Masto at the beginning of her remarks. “That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been working to ensure our schools stay open, have what they need to keep and help our kids in the classroom, and provide important services and support that we’re talking about today.”
Senator Cortez Masto continued by highlighting the benefits of telehealth treatment options, which can provide kids with privacy and flexibility in mental health counseling. Senator Cortez Masto is the cosponsor of bipartisan legislation to enable families with high-deductible health care plans to access no-cost telehealth services. She asked Jodie Lubarsky, Vice President of Clinical Operations at Seacoast Mental Health Center, about how telehealth counseling opportunities can help young adults.
Ms. Lubarsky called telehealth services a “complete game changer”, stating that “the addition of telehealth not only knocked down barriers to getting care, but eliminated the stigma for many families around mental health care.”
Senator Cortez Masto also spoke to Trace Terrell, Lead Intervention And Outreach Specialist at YouthLine mental health hotline, about how peer support relationships are an attractive option for young people seeking mental health help. Senator Cortez Masto has authored legislation to expand online peer support programs – including those targeted at youth and young people.
Mr. Terrell agreed that there are many benefits of peer-to-peer counseling for children and young adults, stating “…we know from statistics that youth are more likely to turn to their friends than anyone else,” said Mr. Terrell. “So when we foster that natural partnership it… really helps to de-stigmatize mental health.”
Senator Cortez Masto helped secure over $170 billion to help keep K-12 schools open throughout the pandemic, and has led efforts in the Senate to address the student mental health and suicide crisis, working closely with students in Nevada, and has called on the Biden administration to work with her to launch a coordinated, all-of-government response to the challenges facing students. Senator Cortez Masto is a leader in expanding access to quality mental and behavioral health care for all Nevadans. She also has introduced legislation to help ensure peer support programs are available online and legislation to ensure peers can serve seniors in Medicare. Her bipartisan bill to overhaul the response to mental health crises nationwide also would increase access to a range of mental health services, including mobile crisis units and crisis stabilization facilities.