WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Representatives Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) introduced legislation to improve mental health resources in schools.

Local school wellness policies guide a school district’s efforts to create a supportive school nutrition and physical activity environment. The Improving Mental Health and Wellness in Schools Act would add mental health as a category for inclusion in local school wellness policies and allow registered dietitians and licensed mental health professionals to collaborate on the development of local school wellness policy mental health goals. It would also allow the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to consult with the Departments of Agriculture and Education on technical assistance and best practices.

“Too often we focus on physical health without considering mental health and well-being,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will implement a new approach to wellness in schools that will ensure our students have access to the resources they need to thrive. As a longtime advocate on this issue, I’ll continue working to promote and normalize mental health care and education.”

“I am pleased to help introduce this bill to improve access to mental health services and resources to combat eating disorders,” said Lummis. “As a senator from Wyoming, I know that rural children often have trouble accessing the critical care they need. This bill will raise awareness about mental health and eating disorders, and help schools in Wyoming, and across the country, provide their students with the support they need.”

“I’m proud to introduce the Improving Mental Health and Wellness in Schools Act to build on the existing wellness systems in schools and to ensure that students of all ages have access to resources and education that promote mental health,” said Manning. “Throughout the last year and a half, students have experienced great difficulties because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s more important than ever that we prioritize mental health resources for young people.”

“As a mother and former teacher, I understand the impact school has on our children’s mental and physical development,” said Hartzler. “Unfortunately, the pandemic has interrupted this progress and negatively impacted our students’ physical, mental, and social wellbeing. In fact, our nation has seen a 25 percent increase in pediatric emergency room admissions for mental health issues since COVID-19 began impacting our communities. The Improving Mental Health and Wellness in Schools Act provides critically needed mental health resources to our educational institutions, giving our children the tools they need to transform into our future leaders. I am proud to support this legislation in a bipartisan fashion in Congress.”

Klobuchar is a long-time advocate for increasing access to mental health services.

In February, Klobuchar and Senators Todd Young (R-IN) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced bipartisan legislation directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award grants to establish a Coronavirus Mental Health and Addiction Assistance Network. These grants would go to eligible entities offering appropriate mental health and addiction services, including Indian tribes, qualified nonprofit organizations, and health care providers.

In March, Klobuchar and Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced the COVID-19 Mental Health Research Act to study the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the mental health of Americans, including health care workers, children and adolescents, older adults, and members of racial and ethnic minority groups.

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