Napolitano, Franken, and Katko Proudly Reintroduce Bipartisan Mental Health in Schools Act

Jun 15, 2017 Issues: Education, Mental Health

(WASHINGTON, DC)  Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA-32), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), and Rep. John Katko (R-NY-24) proudly reintroduced the Mental Health in Schools Act (H.R. 2913; S. 1370) to fund on-site mental health services for youth in schools nationwide.

“Supporting our children early in life can prevent mental health problems from growing more serious over time, helping our youngsters lead healthy, productive lives,” said Congresswoman Napolitano, Chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus. “The Mental Health in Schools Act does this by educating 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. In this stigma-free environment students are referred directly to a clinician on school grounds, to receive services in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner. I thank Senator Franken and Congressman Katko for being at the forefront on mental health issues in Congress, and I look forward to working with them and all of our colleagues to ensure mental health services are available for every child in America.”

“We need to do a better job of treating mental health problems the same way we treat other health problems, and that’s certainly true for our kids who struggle with mental and behavioral health issues,” said Sen. Franken, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “But unfortunately, schools often don’t have enough resources to help support the one-in-five kids in our country who experience mental illness. That needs to change, and that’s why I’m working so hard to pass this bill to ensure that every student has access to the kinds of services they need.”

“In Central New York and in communities nationwide, there is a critical need to improve access to mental and behavioral healthcare in our schools,” said U.S. Rep. John Katko. “Early intervention and preventative mental health programming is critical to treating and building better lives for the many children and families nationwide whose lives are impacted by mental illness. I’m proud to once again join my colleague Rep. Napolitano in introducing the bipartisan Mental Health in Schools Act and thank her for her leadership on this critical issue.” 

The Mental Health in Schools Act, which Napolitano introduced in the previous five Congresses, would create a total of $200 million in grant funding for 100 schools across the country to partner with local nonprofits to provide on-site, culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health services for students. It is patterned after a successful pilot program started in 2001 in Napolitano’s area, which began in four schools that has now expanded to 26 schools throughout Los Angeles County, including much of the San Gabriel Valley.

“We know not every school has the same resources, which is why our bipartisan measure ensures flexibility, allowing schools to improve their services to meet the needs of their students,” Napolitano added. “The Mental Health in Schools Act builds on the success of our suicide prevention program in Los Angeles County where we are raising mental health awareness, reducing harmful stigma, and connecting students to lifesaving care.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

# # #