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Facts on the Mental Health Services for Students Act

The Mental Health Services for Students 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 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 Services for Students Act, thousands of children can be assisted with treatable mental health issues, opening up new possibilities for themselves and their families.

The Mental Health Services for Students overview:

The Mental Health Services for Students Act will provide $130,000,000 in competitive grants of up to $2 million each. It expands the scope of the Project Advancing Wellness and Resilience Education (AWARE) 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.

The Mental Health Services for Students Act will help students by:

  • Providing access to more comprehensive on-site mental health care services for students and their communities by revising, increasing funding for, and expanding the scope of SAMHSA’s Project AWARE Grants for State Educational Agencies
  • Promoting positive mental health education and support for parents, siblings, and other family members of children with mental health disorders, as well as concerned members of the community
  • Allowing teachers to concentrate on teaching by providing comprehensive, culturally and linguistically appropriate services to support students in need of mental health care and those at-risk for behavioral mental health disorders

Background on the Mental Health Services for Students Act:
Congresswoman Grace Napolitano has already implemented this program within her own congressional district since 2001, currently operating in 35 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 Services for Students Act seeks to expand this model nationwide to provide more students with the benefits of on-site mental health care.

Facts on youth mental health:

  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder (National Alliance on Mental Health)
  • 49.4% of children with a mental health disorder do not receive needed treatment or counseling from a mental health professional (JAMA Pediatrics)
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 15-19 years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • 50-75% of youth entering the juvenile justice system meet criteria for a mental health disorder and 40-80% of incarcerated juveniles have at least one diagnosable mental health disorder (National Center for Biotechnology Information)
  • LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to feel suicidal and over four times as likely to attempt suicide (Suicide Prevention Lifeline)
  • 60% of youth with depression do not receive any mental health treatment and only 27% of those with severe depression receive consistent care (Mental Health America)
  • Between March 2020 and October 2020 there was a 24% increase nationwide in mental health related emergency room visits among children between the ages of 5 and 11, and a 31% increase among those between 12 and 17, compared with the same period in 2019 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • In 2019, 1 in 3 high school students reported feeling persistently sad and hopeless, a 40% increase from 2009 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
  • 1:1,482 ratio of school psychologist to students and schools are short 9,000 practicing school psychologists (Child Mind Institute
  • 22% of Latino youth are depressed, while fewer Latino children (8%) when compared to white children (14%) have ever gotten mental health care (UT Health)