Kaine, Casey introduce bill to improve mental health services for students

tim kaineU.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to introduce a bill to improve access to mental health services for students at college campuses across America.

The Higher Education Mental Health Commission Act would establish a national commission to study the mental health conditions facing students at colleges and universities across the country.

“We need to do more to ensure students grappling with mental health issues have the resources they need,” Kaine said. “This bill is an effort to fill the gaps and figure out how to best support students at institutions of higher education across the country.”

Between 2010 and 2015, enrollment in colleges and universities increased by only 5 percent, yet the number of students using mental health services increased by 30 to 40 percent. More than 50 percent of students between the ages of 18 and 24 reported having a severe psychological problem or experiencing feelings of hopelessness. This bill would help address the lack of resources to support students with mental health issues.

Specifically, the Higher Education Mental Health Commission Act:

  • Creates a commission that will be composed of stakeholders that represent students with mental health conditions, family members of students, institutions of higher education, and disability and student advocacy groups.
  • Requires the commission to release a report at the end of its investigation that examines the services available to students with mental health disabilities and to make recommendations to Congress, states and institutions of higher education on how to assist students so they can remain in school, return to school and complete their degrees.

This legislation has been endorsed by: American Council on Education, Association on Higher Education and Disability, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Active Minds, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities, National Disability Rights Network, Healthy Minds Network, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Autism Society of America, Higher Education Consortium for Special Education, Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, American Association of People with Disabilities, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Council of Administrators of Special Education, and the School Social Work Association of America.

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