Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) reintroduced the Mental Health Services for Students Act to strengthen school-based mental health services for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Specifically, this bill would help schools partner with local mental health providers to establish on-site mental health services for students. It would also provide training for school personnel on how to recognize, assist, and refer students who may need mental health support.
“Nevada students continue to face significant challenges accessing mental health services in every community, and I’m determined to do everything I can to get them the support they need,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “Our legislation will help schools provide better services for students and ensure staff can recognize and assist those who need mental health care. I’ll always put Nevada students’ mental health first.”
Schools are an ideal setting to identify students who need mental health services and quickly connect them to help. These services are especially important now, as the number of children and adolescents with anxiety and depression has risen nearly 30 percent in recent years. However, many schools—particularly in rural and underserved communities—operate on tight budgets that prevent them from being able to fund the necessary supports to meet their students’ mental health needs.
The Mental Health Services for Students Act would help schools address these challenges by expanding and improving the activities which Project AWARE funding through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can be used. Specifically, this bill would provide funding to:
- Build partnerships between schools and community-based organizations that can help students get mental health services at school;
- Train teachers, families, and community members to recognize when a student is experiencing a mental health crisis, and make sure they get the help they need; and
- Recognize best practices for the delivery of mental health care in school-based settings and help formalize relationships between entities that support the mental and emotional health of children and adolescents in school settings.
To achieve these goals, the legislation provides $300 million in funding to local educational agencies, tribal schools and community-based organizations to forge these partnerships and help fund these important activities.
In addition to Sens. Cortez Masto, Smith, and Murphy, this legislation is cosponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), and Alex Padilla (D-CA).
A one-pager about this bill is available HERE.
Senator Cortez Masto has been a leader in the Senate on mental health issues. She helped implement and fund the nation’s 988 Suicide & Crisis lifeline, and passed bipartisan legislation to expand behavioral health crisis support services. She successfully fought to include $1 billion to support mental health services in schools in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that passed Congress this summer and she secured federal funding to help Clark County School District better support students recovering from substance use disorder and mental health struggles and for a Nevada State College training facility for students who are preparing to become school psychologists.