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Sen. Franken Reintroduces Legislation to Help Students Get The Care They Need by Expanding Access to Mental Health Care in Schools

Senator and Rep. Napolitano Reintroduce Mental Health in Schools Act to Help Students, Families in Minnesota & Across Country

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sen. Al Franken reintroduced his legislation to support students and their families by expanding access to mental health services in schools throughout Minnesota and the entire country.

The Mental Health in Schools Act—which establishes a grant program to aid schools that work with community-based organizations to expand access to mental health services for students and helps assist schools to train staff, volunteers, families, and other community members to recognize behavioral health problems in kids—was also introduced in the House of Representatives today by Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.).

"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."

"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 for being at the forefront on mental health issues in Congress, and I look forward to working with him and all of our colleagues to ensure mental health services are available for every child in America."

In the United States, one-in-five youth experience mental illness, and 70 percent of those kids don't receive the care they need. With the right training and resources, schools can be instrumental in helping to identify and support students with mental health problems. But all too often, important services provided by school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses are in short supply.

Sen. Franken's Mental Health in Schools Act will: 

·         Expand access to mental health services for students by establishing a grant program to support schools to work with community-based organizations;

 

·         Provide assistance to schools to train staff, volunteers, families, and other members of the community to recognize the signs of behavioral health problems in students and refer them for appropriate services; and

 

·         Develop standardized quality measures and collect data from participating schools to assess program impact and evaluate what works.

 

You can read a summary of the bill here.

 

Sen. Franken has been a champion of mental health care since his first days in the Senate. In 2015, Sen. Franken authored a provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act-the major overhaul to No Child Left Behind that was signed into law-that allowed for the expansion of mental health services for students.

 

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