Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) led 17 of her colleagues in a letter calling for an increase of $500 million in federal funding to address the shortage of school-based mental health professionals like psychologists, counselors, and social workers.
“There is currently a shortage of school-based mental health professionals in our country,” wrote the senators. “National mental health organizations recommend a ratio of one school counselor and one school social worker for every 250 students, and a ratio of one school psychologist for every 500 students, respectively. Unfortunately, across each profession, the national ratio is more than double the recommendation, with some states faring even worse. As a result, there has been an increase in bullying and suicide amongst our nation’s students, and many have limited or no access to mental health services. The mental health and social-emotional needs of students have been increasingly highlighted amidst COVID-19.”
They continued, “Integrating mental health services in schools has helped both students and staff succeed by addressing issues such as bullying, self-esteem, and suicide while improving the school’s capacity to identify, refer, and provide services to help students in need. School-based mental health professionals have been proven to improve staff retention, help keep students in school, and promote learning environments where students feel safe, supported, and ready to learn.”
Senator Cortez Masto has led efforts in the Senate to address the student mental health and suicide crisis. She has introduced legislation that would address growing issues of suicide and mental health facing young people, particularly in socially and economically disadvantaged communities. She has worked 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 was joined by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Debbie Stabenow (D.-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Conn.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Full text of the letter is available here.