Barragán votes to strengthen mental health resources for youth and schools – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel
Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) recently voted to pass HR 7780, the Mental Health Matters Act, legislation that would increase resources to meet the growing mental health needs of children and school staff, strengthen school-based behavioral health care, and ensure access to mental health and addictions benefits for workers and families.
The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the unique mental health challenges facing school staff, including the task of addressing learning loss and meeting the heightened social and emotional needs of students. Additionally, the pandemic has taken a toll on students, more than forty percent of students have experienced lingering feelings of sadness or hopelessness, nearly twenty percent have seriously considered suicide, and more than half of parents and caregivers express concern for the mental well-being of their children.
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“Far too many Americans, including our young people, do not have access to the supports and services needed to meet their mental health needs,” Barragán said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the need for mental health care that was already insufficient, especially for children in our country. Poor mental health seriously disrupts both the student trying to learn and the instructor trying to teach, and for decades schools and administrators have suffered from a lack of resources and support to respond. the mental and behavioral health needs of students and staff.
“This bill creates a pathway to increase the number of school mental health care providers, bolsters the resources of millions of schools across the country, and protects students seeking accommodations for an existing mental health issue. . The mental well-being of our nation’s students, workers and families is critical, and I am proud to have voted for this bill which will provide much-needed support to ensure they can fully participate in their education.
The Mental Health Matters Act will be:
- Direct the Department of Education to provide grants to state educational agencies to recruit and retain school mental health service providers in high-need public elementary and secondary schools;
- Call on the Ministry of Education to provide grants to build 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;
- Require higher education institutions to allow incoming students with existing documentation of a disability to access disability accommodations and require institutions to adopt more transparent policies regarding the accommodation process;
- Create 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;
- Give the Department of Labor enhanced powers to ensure that private, employer-sponsored group health plans comply with the requirements of the Mental Health Parity and Substance Abuse Equity Act and related statutes; and
- Strengthen 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 the courts.