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Napolitano’s Mental Health Services for Students Act Passes Committee

September 9, 2020
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, H.R. 1109, the Mental Health Services for Students Act, which is authored by Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32), unanimously passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee during a full committee markup.

“We are continuing to witness how fear and anxiety about the Coronavirus can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions for our constituents, especially children, as the public health crisis rages on,” Napolitano said. “The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in five youth already experience some type of mental health disorder, which can cause significant challenges at home, school, and in their community. Yet, prior to this public health emergency, only 10 percent of children and adolescents ages 3 to 17-years-old received any treatment or counseling from a mental health professional. While schools work to navigate this pandemic, it is vital that we provide them with the resources to create a mental health plan to reach their students during this stressful time. Together we must continue to increase mental health awareness, reduce harmful stigma, and connect our future leaders to life-saving care. Today’s passage of the Mental Health Services for Students Act is a critical step toward addressing these urgent needs. I thank the Energy and Commerce Committee for moving our bill forward, and we hope it comes to the floor soon for consideration by the full House.”

H.R. 1109, which Napolitano sponsored in the previous six Congresses under the title “Mental Health in Schools Act,” is coauthored by Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24). The bill creates a total of $130 million in grant funding for schools across the country to partner with local mental health professionals to establish comprehensive mental health services for students. This proposal educates the entire school community—from students and their families, to teachers, administrators, and support personnel—on the warning signs and symptoms of mental illness to help identify and treat mental health issues before they escalate.​ Napolitano secured federal funds in 2001 to establish a mental health services for students pilot program, administered by local nonprofit, Pacific Clinics. The program began in four schools and has now expanded to 35 schools throughout Los Angeles County, including much of the San Gabriel Valley, and serves as a model for H.R. 1109. The bill has 134 bipartisan cosponsors and the support of ​50 mental health organizations, local governments, and teacher unions.
 

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