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Mental Health in Schools Bill Introduced

By February 1, 2013 No Comments

U.S. Sen. Al Franken introduced the Mental Health in Schools Act to ensure that schools provide access to critical mental health treatment for kids who need and deserve these services. Sen. Franken’s bill would authorize $200 million per year for five years for grants to schools and community mental health centers to work with community-based organizations to expand access to mental health services for students.  MREA is one of 90 education and mental health organizations to endorse this bill.

“Addressing the mental and emotional needs of our kids is just as important as keeping them safe from physical injury and illness,” said Sen. Franken. “Healthy kids grow into healthy adults, and if we’re able to catch and address mental health issues early, we can help kids become productive members of society. My Mental Health in Schools Act will help make sure that kids in need get access to the mental health treatment they deserve.”

Sen. Franken’s bill has received broad support from mental health professionals, parents, educators, and law enforcement.“If there was one thing that could be done to dramatically improve the lives of children with mental illnesses, it would be expanding mental health services in our schools,” said Sue Abderholden, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota. “Families don’t have to take off of work for multiple visits and the child has less time out of school because they just walk down the hall to get the treatment. Sen. Franken’s bill goes a long way toward making this possible.”

“My son’s access to in-school counseling has been our door to hope that Cameron will have a successful life at home and at school,” said Katie Johnson. “I believe every child—and family—should have access to the same mental health treatment opportunities my family has had and I’m thankful to Sen. Franken for introducing legislation that will help make that possible.”

During last week’s Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control, Baltimore County Police Chief James W. Johnson commended Sen. Franken’s bill and agreed that treatment in schools will help communities. View the video of Chief Johnson’s exchange with Sen. Franken

The Mental Health in Schools Act would establish a grant program that would:

  • Expand access to mental health services in schools;
  • Support schools that work with community-based organizations to expand access to mental health services for students;
  • Provide assistance through grants 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
  • Authorize $200 million in grant funding per year over five years, and eligible schools may apply for up to $1 million per grant year, based on the size of their student population.

The Mental Health in Schools Act is cosponsored in the Senate by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mary Ladrieu (D-La.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

The Mental Health in Schools Act has been endorsed by more than 90 organizations in Minnesota and across the country. Get more information on the bill, including a full list of endorsing organizations, is available by .