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Higgins Announces Passage of Bills Expanding Mental Health Initiatives in Schools

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the passage of several bills that aim to assist students by establishing and expanding mental health initiatives in schools.

Higgins said, “Due to the pandemic, Americans are experiencing a period of isolation like never before and facing additional challenges. All of this has been especially hard on our youth. These bills will dedicate resources to improve outreach and programs that help local students, who have been separated from their peers and teachers, get through this difficult time.”

The following bills were approved:

H.R. 586, the Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act – calls for the implementation of evidence-based suicide awareness and prevention for students in grades six through twelve. 

H.R. 721, the Mental Health Services for Students Act – authorizes $130 million annually through 2025 to support school-based mental health programs to help students dealing with trauma, grief, risk of suicide and violence.

H.R. 2877, the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines Act – directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help schools establish behavioral intervention teams toward the goal of identifying early signs of violence posed to oneself or others. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a steep increase in mental health-related emergency department visits among children during the pandemic.  When compared to 2019, reports indicate a 24 percent increase in mental-health related ED visits for children ages 5-11 and a 31 percent increase for children 12-17 years of age.