Sen. Tina Smith Helps Introduce Bill to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/21/2018]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—a member of the Senate Health Committee—helped introduce legislation in order to better address the increasing number of students with mental health concerns at colleges and universities across the country.

The bill—known as the Higher Education Mental Health Commission Act—would create a national commission to study the mental health concerns that students face. This commission would includerepresentatives from higher education institutions, disability and student advocacy groups, students with mental health conditions, and family members of college students.

Facilitating open, honest conversations about mental health is an important first step toward eliminating the stigma that prevents too many people, including our students, from seeking care,” said Sen. Smith. “This legislation does just that—it would bring people together to have critical discussions on how we can best support students and help them thrive.” 

The group created by the Higher Education Mental Health Commission Act would publish a report that describes the services currently available to students with mental health disabilities and existing policies to support students, as well as providing recommendations to make improvements for students going forward.

The Higher Education Mental Health Commission Act is supported by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The legislation also has the support of the following organizations:

  • American Council on Education
  • Association on Higher Education and Disability
  • Autistic Self Advocacy Network
  • Active Minds
  • National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
  • National Disability Rights Network
  • Healthy Minds Network
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Autism Society of America
  • Higher Education Consortium for Special Education
  • Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children
  • American Association of People with Disabilities
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America
  • Council of Administrators of Special Education
  • School Social Work Association of America