Senator Al Franken

One in five youth in the United States experience mental illness, and 70 percent of adolescents with mental health problems do not receive care. Over the last two decades, suicide rates have doubled among Americans between the ages of 10 and 14, and 40 percent of currently unemployed parents say they have seen behavioral changes in their children due to their unemployment.

We know how to address these terrible facts. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, behavioral and emotional problems decreased among 31 percent of youth with mental health issues after 6 months of receiving mental health care. Within one year of entering a mental health program, the school attendance rates of youth and their grades
increased significantly. In addition, the number of students involved in violent incidents decreased by 15 percent within three years of a school implementing a mental health program. But despite this comprehensive evidence showing the importance of access to mental health and substance use disorder services, many students struggle to access the care they need.

School staff can play an important role in helping to identify and support children with mental health problems. But in a time of tight state budgets for education, too often support services like school counselors end up on the chopping block. While the American School Counselor Association recommends employing one school counselor for every 250
students, in the 2010-2011 school year, the national average was only one counselor for every 471 students.

This legislation will expand access to mental health services in schools. It will establish a grant program to support schools that work with community-based organizations to expand access to mental health services for students. The grant program will also provide assistance to schools to train staff, volunteers, families, and other members of the community to recognize the signs of behavioral health problems in students and refer them for appropriate services. Under the legislation, SAMHSA will develop standardized quality measures and participating schools are required to collect and submit data on their programs and outcomes. The legislation authorizes $200 million in grant funding per year over five years, and eligible schools may apply for up to $1 million per grant year, based on the size of their student population.


Senator Al Franken

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP)
American Association on Health and Disability
American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
American Association of Pastoral Counselors
American Association of School Administrators
American Dance Therapy Association
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
American Group Psychotherapy Association
American Mental Health Counselors Association
American Orthopsychiatric Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychiatric Nurses Association
American Psychological Association
American Psychotherapy Association
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
Children’s Mental Health Network
Clinical Social Work Association
Clinical Social Work Guild
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
Mental Health America
NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health
National Association of Mental Health Planning & Advisory Councils
National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems
National Association of School Psychologists
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)
National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
National Disability Rights Network
National Education Association
National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health
National PTA
Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America
School Social Work Association of America

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