Preventive care and treatment for children with mental illness is the focus of a bill that has been introduced in Congress. The bill would provide funding to increase access to mental health services for children in public schools. Senator Al Franken is sponsoring the bill, called the Mental Health in Schools Act. He says it is intended to ensure that schools provide access to critical mental health treatment for children who need and deserve the services. Funding would be provided through grants.
The Mental Health in Schools Act would establish a grant program that would:
- Expand access to mental health services in schools;
- Support schools that work with community-based organizations to expand access to mental health services for students;
- Provide assistance through grants 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; and
- Authorize $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.
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Grace Napolitano, calling the bill critical and saying it could address the need for on-site school-based care.