WASHINGTON, D.C. [10/1/20]–U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said that her legislation to make sure students in schools across the nation are able to access mental health services passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. This gets her bill over a major hurdle on its way to becoming law.
Sen. Smith’s bill—the Mental Health Services for Students Act—would help schools partner with local mental health providers to establish on-site, mental health services for students. It would also provide training for school personnel on how to recognize, assist and refer students who may need mental health assistance.
Sen. Smith says that young people experience mental health conditions about as often as adults—about 1 in 5 struggle with severe mental health problems—but they often have a hard time accessing services. Schools are an ideal setting to identify students who need mental health services and quickly connect them with help.
“When I ask teachers about what keeps them up at night, they often tell me they worry about the mental health challenges that many of their students face,” said Sen. Smith, a member of the Senate Education Committee. “Providing mental health services through school would be a big help for parents and educators alike while ensuring that students have access to the care they need to succeed. I’m very grateful for Congresswoman Grace Napolitano’s work to move this forward in the House and will fight to advance it in the Senate.”
Senator Smith introduced the Mental Health Services for Students Act in the Senate in April 2019. It was referred to the Senate Health and Education Committee, on which Sen. Smith serves.
Improving access to mental health services is a top priority for Sen. Smith. Last week, her provisions to make sure the child welfare system supports and connects families to mental health services passed the Senate with broad bipartisan support. The Supporting Family Mental Health in CAPTA Act would improve the delivery of mental health services for children and families, connect families with needed support services, support research on effective practices to prevent child abuse and neglect and address disparities in the child welfare system.