June 28, 2023

Whitehouse, Colleagues Continue Fight to Improve Mental Health Services for Students

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has joined colleagues to reintroduce the Mental Health Services for Students Act, which would strengthen school-based mental health services for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade.

The legislation would also help schools in Rhode Island and nationwide partner with local mental health providers to establish on-site mental health services for students.  The bill would provide training for school personnel on how to recognize, assist, and refer students who may need mental health support.

“We’ve seen increased need for mental health support for kids in recent years, and our legislation will expand much-needed mental health care in schools across Rhode Island,” said Whitehouse.  “I am committed to continuing the fight to ensure access to quality health and mental health care for every kid in our state.”

“We need to move access to care upstream, and meet children and families where they are, in schools and communities. This is key to addressing the crisis in child and adolescent mental health,” said Henry Sachs, MD, President, Bradley Hospital. “This bill provides an exciting opportunity for clinical providers and educators to collaborate, share expertise, and expand mental health care equitably.”

Schools are an ideal setting to identify students who need mental health services and quickly connect them to help.  These services are especially important now, as the number of children and adolescents with anxiety and depression has risen nearly 30 percent in recent years.  However, many schools—particularly in rural and underserved communities—operate on tight budgets that prevent them from being able to meet their students’ mental health needs.

The Mental Health Services for Students Act provides $300 million to local educational agencies, tribal schools, and community-based organizations to improve youth mental health in schools.

The legislation was led by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Tina Smith (D-MN), and also cosponsored by Ron Wyden (D-OR), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

A summary of the bill is here.

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921