Stansbury Votes to Strengthen School Behavioral Health Resources for New Mexico with Mental Health Issues Act
U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury (NM-01) voted to pass the Mental Health Issues Act through the U.S. House of Representatives to address the current behavioral health crisis facing are facing students, families and educators in New Mexico.
The Mental Health Matters Act (HR7780) supports the behavioral health needs of New Mexico students and educators, strengthens school-based behavioral health care, and removes barriers preventing workers and families from accessing the treatment of substance use disorders.
“The pandemic has taken a tremendous toll on New Mexico’s students and teachers and has strained our already taxed behavioral health care system,” Rep. Stansbury said. “We need to create a pipeline of mental health care providers in New Mexico, while ensuring our children and teachers get the help they need now. I will continue to work hard to enact comprehensive behavioral health solutions like the Mental Health Act for our schools, families, and communities as we battle the interconnected behavioral health crises in New Mexico.
Rep. Stansbury voted to pass the Mental Health Matters Act as students and educators continue to deal with the severe mental health effects of the pandemic. In 2021, 44 percent of students report having persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, almost 20 percent seriously considering suicide, and nine percent suicide attempt. School staff also urgently need mental health support to improve their well-being and help deal with ongoing staffing shortages.
The Mental Health Matters Act includes a series of solutions to help students, staff and their families combat these issues:
The Mental Health Matters Act (HR 7780):
- Directs the Department of Education to provide grants to establish a network of school mental health service providers and to increase the number of mental health professionals serving in elementary and secondary schools in areas where needs are high;
- Directs the Department of Education to provide grants to state educational agencies to recruit and retain school mental health service providers in public elementary and secondary schools in need;
- Requires higher education institutions to allow incoming students with existing documentation of a disability to access disability accommodations and requires institutions to adopt more transparent policies regarding the accommodation process;
- Creates a grant program to increase student access to evidence-based trauma and mental health support services by developing innovative initiatives to connect schools and local education agencies to local support and health systems trauma-informed mindset;
- Require the Department of Health and Human Services to identify evidence-based interventions for Head Start programs and support Head Start agencies to implement these interventions to improve the health of children and staff;
- gives the Department of Labor enhanced powers to ensure that employer-sponsored private group health plans meet their responsibility to provide mental health and addictions benefits under the MHPAEA and ERISA; and
- Strengthens the ability of Americans with employer-sponsored private health and retirement plans to hold plan sponsors accountable when they are wrongfully denied benefits by prohibiting forced arbitration agreements and ensuring a standard of fair review by courts
A fact sheet on the Mental Health Matters Act (HR 7780) is available here. The full text of the legislation is available here.