HELP Committee Holds Hearing on Child Mental Health
On Thursday, June 8, 2023, the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing, “Why are so many American Youth in a Mental Health Crisis? Exploring Causes and Solutions.”
In his opening remarks, Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said young people he’s met have attributed mental health challenges with anxiety about climate change, gun violence, and poverty. He added that social media has resulted in young people being disconnected and that we are “up against the best minds in the world, who keep finding new ways to get young people addicted to their devices.” Social media concerns were echoed by Members from both parties and witnesses alike.
Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA) agreed that the state of child mental health is troubling, and shared that he ponders the question “how do we improve access to quality mental health for young people?” Cassidy recently worked across the aisle to approve historic funding to increase the number of school mental health professionals through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.
Panel witnesses amplified their concerns about the mental health crisis. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called it “the defining public health issue of our time,” while Katy Neas, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services said “schools are a gateway to needed services that otherwise may be unavailable to young people.” Dr. Joshua Garcia, Superintendent of Tacoma (WA) Public Schools described implementing a whole child approach to learning, mental health, and student well-being that has transformed outcomes for students in his district.
Senators from both sides of the Committee expressed their concerns with rising rates of mental health challenges and indicated willingness to continue to work together to find solutions.
To view the hearing, go here.
CEC and its members agree, the child mental health crisis requires action. At the federal level, grants that support increasing the supply of school mental health professionals plays a critical role. Join your colleagues to advocate for increased funding for these grant programs so that children can have access to mental health services.
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