June 13, 2023

Wyden, Colleagues Continue Fight to Improve Mental Health Services for Students

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden said today that he and Senate colleagues have reintroduced legislation that would strengthen school-based mental health services for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The Mental Health Services for Students Act would help schools in Oregon and nationwide partner with local mental health providers to establish on-site mental health services for students. The bill would also provide training for school personnel on how to recognize, assist and refer students who may need mental health support.

“I’ve heard in town halls and other settings all over our state from parents, teachers and students that mental health care for young Oregonians can’t wait,” said Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “This bill would build on the Finance Committee’s work to help kids get the care they need in schools while also setting students up to succeed in the classroom, on the job and in life.”

Schools are an ideal setting to identify students who need mental health services and quickly connect them to help. These services are especially important now, as the number of children and adolescents with anxiety and depression has risen nearly 30 percent in recent years. However, many schools—particularly in rural and underserved communities—operate on tight budgets that prevent them from being able to meet their students’ mental health needs.

The Mental Health Services for Students Act provides $300 million to local educational agencies, tribal schools and community-based organizations to improve youth mental health in schools.

The legislation was led by U.S. Senators Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn. Alongside Wyden, the bill was cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Alex Padilla, D-Calif.

As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Wyden has led a bipartisan effort to improve youth mental health care as a part of the committee’s ongoing work to improve mental health care across the nation.

A summary of the bill is here.