Facts on the Mental Health in Schools Act

The Mental Health in Schools Act would provide funding for public schools across the country to partner with local mental health professionals to establish on-site mental health care services for students.

The Mental Health in Schools Act will help students by:

  • Helping provide professional help for the 1 out of 5 youth who suffer from some form of mental illness
  • Addressing mental health problems when students are young, instead of waiting until they have drifted into drug use, crime, depression, or suicide
  • Keeping costs low, because mental health costs are very little compared to the costs placed on social services and the prison system when mental health is neglected
  • Saving lives, by funding school employed or community employed mental health professionals who help prevent suicide by identifying at-risk youth and counseling students before their problems spiral out of control

Background:
Congresswoman Grace Napolitano has already implemented this program within her own congressional district since 2001, currently operating in 14 local schools. The program has proven to be tremendously successful in helping students overcome mental health issues and improving quality of life for them and their families. The Mental Health in Schools Act seeks to expand this model nationwide to provide more students with the benefits of on-site mental health care.

Details on the Mental Health in Schools Act:
The Mental Health in Schools Act will provide $200,000,000 in competitive grants of up to $1 million each. It expands the scope of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Program by providing on-site licensed mental health professionals in schools across the country. Funding will be distributed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which will set guidelines and measure the outcomes of the funded programs.

Facts:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. children and adolescents have some form of mental health issue (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • 70% of adolescents with mental health problems do not receive care (Journal of Adolescent Health, volume 38)
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 (National Institute of Mental Health report)
  • Among young people aged 10-14 years old, suicide rates have doubled in the last two decades (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
  • More than half of federal and state prison inmates have a diagnosable mental health problem (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • Children with mental health issues make $10,400 less per year as adults (Journal of Social Science and Medicine)
  • 4 in 10 currently unemployed parents say they have seen behavioral changes in their children due to their unemployment (NY Times/CBS Poll)
  • Behavioral and emotional problems decreased among 31 percent of youth with mental health issues after 6 months of receiving mental health care (SAMHSA report)
  • Within one year of entering a mental health program, youth attending school regularly increased from 75% to 81%, and those receiving passing grades increased from 55% to 66% (SAMHSA report)
  • Number of students involved in violent incidents decreased by 15% within three years of instating mental health programs (SAMHSA report)
  • Sixteen percent of students report lower depression, 21% lower anxiety, and 38% have better behavior after 1 year (SAMHSA report)
  • State mental health programs were cut nationally by 4 percent in 2009, 5 percent in 2010, and are estimated to be cut by more than 8% in 2011 (Stateline.org July 19 2010)
  • Two thirds of school districts reported that the need for mental health services had increased since the previous year, and one third reported that funding for mental health services had decreased in that time (Foster et al., 2005).

The number of children affected by mental health issues is great, and the cost of counseling them is low – especially compared to the harm caused by suicide, crime, and lifetimes of missed opportunities. With the Mental Health in Schools Act, thousands of children can be assisted with treatable mental health issues, opening up new possibilities for themselves and their families.