Senator Kennedy Wants To Improve Mental Health Services For Students

December 8, 2020 by Sean Trambley
Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., on Capitol Hill September 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON – This week, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., introduced the Youth Mental Health Services Act to improve mental health services for students in primary and secondary schools.

“It’s a lot harder being a kid in 2020 than when I was growing up. Young people need helping hands and listening ears as they face new social and societal pressures. Kids deserve reliable access to high-quality mental health resources, and the Youth Mental Health Service Act would make it easier for them to get that support in their communities,” said Kennedy.

The Youth Mental Health Services Act would allow school districts to use Title IV funds authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act to put in place new mental health resources for students. 

The services would follow a model that gives students access to mental health resources in their communities rather than limiting access to schools, which reduces the stigma that often comes with receiving services in a school setting.

The bill also allows states to use their Title IV funds to improve existing mental health services. States would be able to use these funds to do any of the following:

  • Promote best practices for mental health first aid, which helps people understand mental illness and supports intervention;
  • Help improve and execute emergency planning, which schools often lack;
  • Partner with local health agencies to improve the coordination of services; and
  • Expand telehealth services through private providers.

Bipartisan companion legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. David Roe, R-Tenn., in early 2019.

The bill text is available here.

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