Shaheen is leading the bipartisan introduction of new legislation to address the shortage of mental health care providers in schools

March 28, 2022

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) in introducing a new bipartisan legislation, The School Mental Health Excellence Act. This bipartisan bill solves the shortage of mental health care providers in schools by authorizing the Department of Education to partner with higher education institutions to help defray costs for students in college programs. relevant graduate studies. The legislation would boost the pipeline of graduate students trained to become school psychologists, counselors and social workers responding to the youth mental health crisis that has been compounded by the pandemic.

“The pandemic has brought to light the number of students in New Hampshire and across the country struggling with isolation, depression and mental health issues. We need mental health professionals in schools equipped to counsel students and help them heal from trauma. Unfortunately, we do not have a strong network of mental health care providers, which leaves many children and adolescents vulnerable and without the help they need.“said Shaheen. “That’s why I’m introducing new bipartisan legislation to invest in the next generation of mental health professionals serving in schools. By helping more students afford graduate programs focused on mental health by school environment, we can attract more workers to this essential field. The mental health crisis is not going away, and it is high time that we devote resources and energy to holistically helping those who have it. We owe it to our children to give them the tools to heal and succeed.

“Access to essential mental health resources in schools is important to the safety, well-being and academic performance of Hoosier students,” said Senator Young. “The School Mental Health Excellence Act will help address the critical shortage of mental health professionals by partnering with graduate schools to increase education and participation within the school-based mental health workforce.

“The pandemic has shed even more light on some of the many mental health challenges students face. Every day, students are confronted with constraints and challenges that they are too often obliged to face alone. We need to ensure that students – along with teachers, school staff and families – have the support they need to overcome mental health challenges,” said Senator Peters. “This common sense legislation will help address the shortage of mental health professionals in our schools – so students in Michigan and across the country can safely turn to someone they can trust to acquire help.”

“Our children are the future, and their mental well-being is vital to their academic success. In North Dakota, there is approximately one school psychologist for every 1,692 students, which is well above the recommended ratio. Our students deserve a safe and supportive learning environment.The Excellence in Mental Health in Schools Act addresses the current shortage of school mental health providers to ensure that students have access to the resources needed to succeed in the classroom and outside “, said Senator Cramer.

“Our students need more support than ever, but without enough school psychologists and other school mental health care providers, our schools are not equipped to meet their growing needs. We are thrilled to see the bipartisan Senate introduce the Excellence in School Mental Health Program Act and thank Senator Shaheen, Young, Peters and Cramer for their leadership on this critical issue,” said Dr. Kathleen Minke, executive director of the National Association of School Psychologists.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends a ratio of one school psychologist for every 500 students. However, the national average ratio is estimated at about one school psychologist for every 1,200 students, with wide variations between states.

the School Mental Health Excellence Act aims to increase recruitment and retention of school mental health service providers. The legislation creates a program for the Department of Education to partner with eligible higher education institutions to cover the full cost of graduate school mental health programs for students at eligible institutions.

Similar bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Ryan Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).

The full text of the bill is available here.

Shaheen is a leader in the Senate working to shed light on the mental health crisis. Shaheen has fought to secure funding for mental health and addiction services during the pandemic, including $4.25 billion in funding through emergency COVID relief legislation in the year last and nearly $4 billion through the US bailout. She also moderated virtual discussions on the epidemic of youth and adolescent mental health, and she invited Maureen O’Dea, president of the New Hampshire School Counselors Association and principal of the school council at Londonderry High School, as a virtual guest at President Biden’s joint address to Congress last year to highlight the need to address adolescent mental health challenges. Shaheen also previously co-sponsored the Guidance in Elementary and Secondary Schools Act, to increase the availability of mental health resources in US public schools. Last month, Shaheen sent a letter to Education Department Secretary Miguel Cardona calling on the department to strengthen federal support for teachers and staff to help students struggling with mental health issues. Shaheen also helped provide $111 million for school mental health services through the FY22 omnibus passed last week.

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