WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Assistant Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark (MA-5) voted to pass the Mental Health Matters Act, legislation to confront the mental health crisis impacting students, families, and workers. The comprehensive package includes Clark’s Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act which addresses the critical and unmet need for school-based mental health providers by establishing a five-year grant program to recruit and retain counselors in high-need public K-12 schools.
“Rates of youth anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation have skyrocketed across America. Our children need help, and our parents need a place to turn,” said Assistant Speaker Clark while speaking on the House floor. “The Mental Health Matters Act includes my legislation to address the critical and unmet need for school-based mental health providers, ensuring that whether you’re in Head Start or high school, kids have the mental health care they need to be healthy and thrive.”
"Congresswoman Clark has been and continues to be a champion for paying close attention to the frailty of the humanity condition and which is sometimes forgotten in our dependance on our educators and administrators as stewards of our children and families. The efforts to prioritize and fully support mental health, through legislation, sends a powerful message about the need to address all that we learned about mental health stigmas and crisises before the pandemic and which has only been amplified since March 2020," said Framingham Superintendent Dr. Robert Tremblay. "We have all been traumatized and impacted in some way and the efforts to bring mental health support to the fore has never been greater than in this time of recovery. The health of the entire educational enterprise rests on the health of our school community and all who come together in the space of teaching and learning. I am grateful for the Congresswoman's dedication and commitment to the health of our educational community."
The Mental Health Matters Act addresses the mental health crisis facing Americans with wide-ranging steps. Specifically, this legislation would:
- Increase the number of mental health professionals serving in high-need public schools.
- Award grants to local and state educational agencies to help recruit and retain mental health professionals at high-need public schools.
- Require higher learning institutions to allow students with documentation of disabilities to access accommodations and adopt more transparent policies.
- Increase access to evidence-based trauma support and mental health services by linking schools and local agencies specialized in trauma-informed care.
- Assist Head Start programs and agencies with implementing evidence-based interventions to improve children's and staff's health.
- Ensure private, employer-sponsored group health plans provide mental health and substance use disorder benefits under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).
- Allow individuals with private, employer-sponsored health and retirement plans to hold insurers accountable when mental health and substance use disorder benefits are denied.
More information on this critical legislation can be found HERE.
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