Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, along with 45 original cosponsors, introduced H.R. 628, the Mental Health in Schools Act, to fund critical and much needed on-site school-based mental health services for youth.
"Mental wellness is just as important as physical wellness, and we must reduce stigma to ensure the quality of life of our youngsters, our families, our communities, and our returning service members," Napolitano said. "It is okay to seek help. We must secure and protect the federal funding needed to carry out affordable mental health services and programs for all Americans. Government recognition for the need of mental health services is long overdue."
Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) introduced the Senate version of the bill (S.195) on January 31, 2013, with nine original cosponsors.
"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. The Mental Health in Schools Act will help make sure that kids in need get access to the mental health treatment they deserve."
The Mental Health in Schools Act, which Napolitano introduced in the previous three Congresses, would create a competitive grant program which would allow the receiving school districts to hire mental health professionals for their district. By having qualified professionals working on-site in schools, they will be better able to provide prevention and early intervention services for students.
"I am pleased to join Senator Franken in moving forward on mental health," Napolitano said. "We must all continue to educate the students, parents, administrators, and media to de-stigmatize the issue of mental illness and let those silently hurting know that it is always okay to ask for help."
If you or someone you know needs help, call the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).