Our nation’s young people are facing an unprecedented mental health crisis. Even before the pandemic, rates of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts among youth were on the rise. The pandemic exacerbated those issues, disrupting learning, relationships, and routines and increasing isolation – especially among our nation’s young people. More than 40 percent of teenagers state that they struggle with persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and more than half of parents and caregivers express concern over their children’s mental well-being.

To address this crisis, President Biden put forward in his first State of the Union a comprehensive national strategy to tackle our mental health crisis, and called for a major transformation in how mental health is understood, accessed, treated, and integrated – in and out of health care settings.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced two new actions to strengthen school-based mental health services and address the youth mental health crisis.

1. Awarding the first of nearly $300 million the President secured through the FY2022 bipartisan omnibus agreement to expand access to mental health services in schools. Next week, the Department of Education will begin the process to disburse almost $300 million Congress appropriated in FY22 through both the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the FY22 Omnibus to help schools hire more school-based mental health professionals and build a strong pipeline into the profession for the upcoming school year. In total, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will invest $1 billion over the next five years in mental health supports in our schools, making progress towards the President’s goal to double the number of school counselors, social workers and other mental health professionals. This funding is allocated to two critical programs:

2. Encouraging Governors to Invest More in School-Based Mental Health Services.

In a letter sent today to Governors across the country, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services highlight federal resources available to states and schools to invest in mental health services for students. The joint letter from Secretaries Becerra and Cardona highlights actions by the Biden-Harris Administration to improve the delivery of health care in schools and make sure children enrolled in Medicaid have access to comprehensive health care services, as required by law. The letter also previews forthcoming Medicaid guidance on how states can leverage Medicaid funding to deliver critical mental health care services to more students, including ways to make it easier to bill Medicaid for these services.

Next Up: $1.7 Billion for Mental Health Thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

An additional $1.7 billion for mental health is headed to our schools and communities thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) signed by President Biden last month. Provisions of this legislation authorize funding and technical assistance in the following areas:

  • Expanding Community Based Behavioral Health Services. $40 million for the Department of Health and Human Services to support the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Medicaid Demonstration Program, including support for new planning grants to states. CCBHCs provide comprehensive, coordinated, person-and family-centered services and 24/7 crisis intervention services.
  • Enhancing Delivery of School-Based Mental Health. Working with the Department of Education, HHS will establish a technical assistance center and award grants for implementing, enhancing, or expanding the provision of assistance through schools under Medicaid and CHIP.

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