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Sen. Franken Provisions to Improve Mental Health in Schools Clears Key Hurdle

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U.S. Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn.) provisions to improve access to mental health care in schools took a crucial step toward becoming law when it was included in a bipartisan mental health bill that passed out of the Senate Health and Education Committee today.

"Nearly three-quarters of the kids in the country who suffer from mental health issues do not get the care they need, and that's unacceptable," said Sen. Franken. "My Mental Health in Schools provisions would go a long way toward combating this problem. I'm pleased that today we took a crucial step toward getting our kids the help they need to become healthy adults."

Also today, the President proposed a budget that allocates $235 million for new mental health programs mainly focused on preventing and treating illness in young people, Sen. Franken looks forward to continuing to work with the Administration on mental health issues.

Sen. Franken's Mental Health in Schools provisions-which were included in the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013 passed today by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on a broad bipartisan basis-makes several changes to federal education law to help improve school-based mental health programs. Specifically, Sen. Franken's provisions:

Creates a new use of Safe and Drug Free Schools National Programs funding in order to support the development of school-based mental health partnership programs to build partnerships between schools and community-based mental health providers; and

Clarifies that school districts can use different forms of federal funding to implement school-based mental health programs and to train school staff in developing mechanisms to improve the mental health of students.

Sen. Franken's provisions have been endorsed by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the American Association of School Administrators the National School Boards Association, the National PTA, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), the National Association of School Psychologists, the American Counseling Association, the School Social Work Association of America, and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

The measure passed by the Health and Education Committee will now move to the full Senate for action.

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