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Advocate, Support & Advance Mental Health Access

Our federal and state government affairs efforts center on advocacy to ensure that the unique needs of counselors and their clients are considered in the development of laws and regulations impacting the field. We monitor and report on legislative and regulatory developments, lobby for relevant bills and connect lawmakers with counseling experts. By working with the federal and state legislators, ACA aims to influence decision-making and promote funding for mental health programs.

Federal Advocacy Topics

We did it! Medicare reimbursement for counselors is now law. Thank you to the thousands of advocates who urged Congress to support this legislation to increase access to mental health in America and promote the counseling profession. 

So what's next? ACA has joined with the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition to advocate on your behalf, answer your questions about the new law and provide resources to help you prepare to become a Medicare provider.

There is federal funding available for student loans and for counseling services in many settings. ACA works to expand those programs and keep members apprised of the opportunities to apply for these grants. 

Students can access information and funding opportunities to further their research and education.

ACA has been successful in advocating for increased funding for behavioral health services in schools; and we will continue to work for funding increases. Working with the Title IV-A Coalition, ACA has encouraged Congress to provide funding for school behavioral health programs and to reject the government’s initial piecemeal approach to funding.   

The bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes a flexible block grant program under Title IV, Part A. Title IV, Part A authorizes activities in three broad areas:  

  • Providing students with a well-rounded education (e.g., college and career counseling, STEM, music and arts, civics, IB/AP, computer science)
  • Supporting safe and healthy students (e.g., comprehensive school mental health, drug and violence prevention, training on trauma-informed practices, health and physical education) and
  • Supporting the effective use of technology (e.g., professional development, blended and personalized learning, and devices).

This additional funding will help provide all students with more access to mental health services. Schools will be able to hire more school counselors, create more opportunities for mental-health-related programs and develop programs designed to help create a safe and healthy school environment.  

With your help, ACA can continue to advocate to ensure full funding for school counseling programs.  

ACA is proud to partner with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase the number of licensed professional mental health counselors employed by the agency. Learn more about this partnership in Counseling Today

If you are interested in applying for a federal job, these tips may be helpful:  

For additional assistance when applying for a federal job visit the USAJobs Help Section

ACA has partnered with the U.S. Caucus on the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys (CSSBMB) in the fight to eliminate the increasing suicide numbers faced by Black men and boys. CSSBMB was established in 2020, and is tasked with recommending policies to improve upon, or augment, current government programs. CSSBMB focuses on issues around disparities in education, civil rights violations, criminal justice, health care, employment, fatherhood, mentorship and violence. On May 1, 2024, ACA took the first step in supporting the commissions charge by committing our expertise and resources to the commission to fight against this national crisis. ACA CEO Shawn Boynes testified alongside his peers in the mental health committee to provide insight on what steps Congress can take to eradicate eh growing suicide numbers by Black men and boys.

Read the Full Testimony

State Advocacy

ACA funded this landmark legislative project to allow counselors to practice across state lines. We anticipate the application for privileges to practice will be available to counselors within member states starting in 2024. Thanks to the dedication of our members, we are currently at 33 member states who have enacted the Counseling Compact legislation. To learn which states have enacted this legislation, please visit

ACA works with our members, national coalitions, and state branches to support advocacy efforts addressing social determinants of health within mental health and the counseling profession. A recent successful campaign with many branches was the "Racism Is A Public Health Crisis" campaign. Declaring racism a public health crisis at the state and local levels (cities/counties) allows authorities and agencies to appropriate funds and resources towards addressing the issue.

We continue to see backlash at the state level regard counseling ethics and educational standards including multicultural counseling, books and resources which have been the national standard for decades. ACA works with our members to support their efforts in obtaining the necessary materials and resources for best practices.

ACA has worked for years with our members to facilitate discourse on Conversion Therapy Bans – a successful state-by-state movement. Twenty-six (26) states, as well as Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and over 100 municipalities have banned the practice. Despite this, we face continued resistance in certain areas of the U.S. This includes legislation seeking to mandate insurance coverage of conversion therapy, despite the fact that every behavioral health profession defines this practice as illegitimate with no empirical data support its methodology or need. It is not considered a disorder to identify as non-heteronormative. Therefore, conversion therapy, which seeks to "treat" this as such is proven to be harmful to clients and counselors within the LGBTQIA community. 

In addition to Coversion Therapy Bans, LGBTQIA bills continued to be introduced in state legislatures at an alarming rate. Legislatures and our members face a landscape with historically high numbers of bills that would adversely impact the LGBTQIA community, reaching around a thousand bill annually across the country. Many directly impact the counseling field and ACA works with branches to ensure they have the support necessary to build broad and effective coalitions during this unprecedented time.

Tip Sheet: How to Contact Your State Attorney General on LGBTQ+ Laws

ACA works to align states through promotion of consistent ethical and educational standards within the counseling profession and through regulatory support and relationships with boards, branches, and officials, as necessary.

The ACA policy team also closely monitors bills that impact our profession in partnership with national coalitions and our members, including: 

  • provider autonomy,
  • client/counselor privacy, 
  • student loan repayment for counselors, 
  • telehealth flexibilities, 
  • insurance parity, 
  • school counseling, 
  • career counseling and
  • appropriations and funding for vital community-based mental health services that highlight violence prevention, suicide prevention, and work with vulnerable groups including veterans, those residing in extremely rural areas, underserved communities, and drug use disorder programs.

Advocacy News

Contact Our Advocacy Team