FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
29 September 2022
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44) voted to pass H.R. 7780, the Mental Health Matters Act, legislation that would take wide ranging steps to support the behavioral health of children and school staff, strengthen school-based behavioral healthcare, and ensure access to mental health and substance abuse disorder benefits for workers and families.
The COVID-19 pandemic intensified the unique mental health challenges that school personnel face, including the task of addressing learning loss and supporting students heightened social and emotional needs. Additionally, the pandemic took a serious toll on students, with over forty percent of students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, almost twenty percent seriously considered suicide, and four percent attempted suicide.
“The pandemic showed the country that our kids and our schools need serious help when it comes to dealing with mental health,” said Rep. Barragán. “Poor mental health seriously disrupts both the student trying to lean and the instructor trying to teach, and for decades schools and administrators have failed to address growing mental health problems in students and staff. This bill will allocate mental health professionals and resources to millions of schools across the country and allow college students to request accommodations for an existing disability. We must address the mental health crisis in this country with robust resources and ensure that our schools are a safe place to learn.”
The Mental Health Matters Act will:
- Direct the Department of Education to award grants to state educational agencies to recruit and retain school-based mental-health services providers a t high need public elementary and secondary schools;
- Direct the Department of Education to award grants to build a pipeline of school based mental health services providers and increase the number of mental health professionals serving in elementary and secondary schools in high need areas;
- Require institutions of higher education to allow incoming students with existing documentation of a disability to access disability accommodations and require institutions to adopt more transparent policies around the accommodations process;
- Create a grant program to increase students’ access to evidence-based trauma support and mental health services by developing innovative initiatives to link schools and local educational agencies with local trauma-informed support and mental health systems;
- Require the Department of Health and Human Services to identify evidence-based interventions for Head Start programs and help Head Start agencies implement these interventions to improve the health of children and staff;
- Provide the Department of Labor with strengthened authority to ensure that private, employer-sponsored group health plans comply with the requirements of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and related laws; and
- Strengthen the ability of Americans with private, employer-sponsored health and retirement plans to hold plan sponsors accountable when they are improperly denied benefits by banning forced arbitration agreements and ensuring a fair standard of review by the courts.
Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington. She serves as chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security, and on the House Energy and Commerce Health, Energy, and Environment & Climate Change Subcommittees.