Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Members of Congress Push for More Mental Health Funding for Schools

U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said yesterday that they will introduce the Mental Health in the Schools Act in the House and Senate, respectively. The two spoke at a briefing on Capitol Hill for congressional staffers co-chaired by Napolitano and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) on mental health aspects of gun-violence prevention.

The proposed act would provide resources for schools to work with mental health care providers and offer comprehensive training to parents and teachers about warning signs of mental illness, said Franken. “It’s not just about preventing violence,” he said. “It’s about making sure kids have access to mental health services.”

Napolitano has introduced similar legislation in previous sessions of Congress, but the program has only received pilot-stage funding. She is concerned that fiscal obstacles lie in the way of final passage. “Unless we find the money, the likelihood of passage is quite low,” she said in an interview with Psychiatric News after the briefing. Nevertheless, she and other speakers said the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., might spur action to reduce gun violence and increase access to mental health services for young people.

For more in Psychiatric News about the Mental Health in the Schools act, click here.

(Image: Aaron Levin/Psychiatric News)