On Thursday, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark of Massachusetts announced the introduction of the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act.

A release from Merkley said the legislation would greatly boost the availability of mental health resources in America’s public schools.

The release said mental illness affects 20 percent of American youth. Just this week, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued a new advisory stressing the urgent and critical need to address the country’s youth mental health crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bicameral legislation will put additional mental health providers in elementary and secondary schools across America.

Merkley said, “Mental health care is essential health care, now more than ever”. Merkley said, “Our country has neglected this fact for far too long, and our children our paying the price”. Merkley said with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic still greatly impacting the growth and experience of school age kids, “…it’s time to do a lot more to ensure mental health programs are available to every child in every school”.

The proposal would establish five-year renewable grant programs for elementary and secondary schools to hire additional school counselors. 

Original story HERE