September 25, 2018

Wyden Co-sponsors Student Mental Health Bills

Oregon senator calls legislation much-needed to help young people battling anxiety disorders, depression and ADHD

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today announced he is co-sponsoring legislation that would provide more mental health screening and services for students in Oregon and nationwide.

Wyden said the bill would authorize $200 million for a federal Health and Human Services program to give much-needed support to state and local education agencies working to bolster mental health for students.

“Providing help in schools for students facing undiagnosed mental health challenges is a must to help young people succeed in the classroom and graduate,” Wyden said. “This legislation helps to achieve that goal by supporting more screenings and training staff members to ensure access to quality mental health assistance for children, regardless of their economic status.”

Wyden said the Mental Health Services for Students Act of 2018 would provide more resources to train educators to detect and respond to mental health issues, and to connect young people and their families to appropriate mental health services.

He said the Mental Health Services for Students Act of 2018  is crucial at a time when data from the Department of Health and Human Services shows the following troubling statistics:

  • 32 percent of 13- to 18-year-olds have anxiety disorders;
  • 13 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have depression;
  • 9 percent of 13- to 18-year-olds have ADHD.

Wyden also is co-sponsoring legislation this Congress that would increase the recruitment and retention of school-based mental health service providers by low-income local schools.

The Increasing Access to Mental Health in Schools Act would establish a grant program to build partnerships between graduate schools and low-income local schools. That legislation also would create a student loan forgiveness program for school-based mental health service providers who have been employed by low-income local schools for five or more years.

A 2017 survey from the Oregon Health Authority reported that rates for chronic absenteeism and missing school because a student felt unsafe drop for both eighth graders and 11th graders if they feel there is an adult at school who cares about them.

“Students are more likely to make it to school and ultimately earn their diploma if there is a counselor or other adult who cares about them in the classroom,” Wyden said. “Bringing more mental health service providers into low-income local schools will increase the likelihood that students get the support they need at school.”