Napolitano’s Mental Health Services for Students Act Unanimously Passes House
(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, H.R. 1109, the Mental Health Services for Students Act, authored by Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte), unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote.
“Mental health services for our students are critically important and needed now more than ever during this pandemic,” Napolitano said. “My discussions in recent weeks with San Gabriel Valley-area superintendents and teachers reflect this urgent need and make clear that we must equip our schools with resources to create a mental health plan as they navigate the ongoing pandemic. I am very grateful to my constituents, House colleagues, and the countless mental health professionals and advocates who contributed toward today's historic passage.”
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.
“Only 10 percent of children and adolescents ages 3 to 17-years-old received any treatment or counseling from a mental health professional prior to this current public health emergency,” Napolitano added. “Stigma and lack of funding remain huge obstacles to seeking life-saving services, which is why our action today is so important. In passing the Mental Health Services for Students Act we are beginning to seriously address the unfolding children’s mental health crisis while sending a powerful message of hope to students across the country who may be struggling; it is always okay to ask for help.”
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 135 bipartisan cosponsors and the support of 50 mental health organizations, local governments, and teacher unions.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
# # #