Sarbanes Votes to Strengthen Mental Health Care for Students, Teachers and Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today voted to confront the mental health crisis in schools by bolstering behavioral health care for students and reinforcing mental health and substance use disorder benefits for teachers, staff and families.

“As we see the rising rates of anxiety, depression and suicide among young Americans today, our country must work harder to prioritize mental health,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “Investing in our School-Based Health Centers is one of the smartest decisions we can make to give students the support they need. By increasing the pipeline of mental health professionals in our schools, this legislation will offer students a consistent and stable source of care that can make a real difference in their lives. As our teachers strive to address learning loss while supporting students’ deep social and emotional needs, we must thank them by ensuring they have access to the affordable mental health care that helps them continue such important work. I am pleased this legislation takes significant steps to boost the well-being of our students, educators and families.”

The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the need for robust mental and behavioral health care at every level of education. To meet this increased demand, the Mental Health Matters Act (H.R. 7780) would provide additional resources to expand school-based mental health services and improve the pipeline of school-based providers across the country. Along with providing resources to public elementary and secondary schools and identifying evidence-based behavioral health interventions for Head Start programs, this legislation requires institutions of high education to better accommodate students with disabilities. To ensure teachers and staff can access behavioral health care services, this legislation takes additional steps to improve oversight and prevent private, employer-sponsored group health plans from improperly denying mental health and substance use disorder benefits.

For many years, Congressman Sarbanes has led the effort in Congress to strengthen and support School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs), which are central to addressing the ongoing mental health crisis among young Americans.

See here for more information about the bill.