Current Issues

These are the high priority federal policy issues on which ACA is working. Your help is needed! Click on the issues listed to pull up a briefing paper or advocacy kit on the topic, and find out how you can help us move forward.

Feb 11, 2013

Support Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013

S. 195, Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013

Sponsor: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

Support Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013 

School safety and preventative mental health services are key issues currently being discussed on Capitol Hill. ACA has been tracking numerous mental health and education bills that are being introduced in order to increase mental health services for our youth and create comprehensive approaches to bridging the services provided in schools and in the community.

ACA supports the Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013, which was introduced on January 31. It is designed to:
  • Increase students’ access to mental-health services in schools by establishing a new grant program that supports collaboration between local education agencies and community based health and social service organizations focused on children and youth
  • Provide training for school employees to help identify and address the mental health needs of students. Rep. Napolitano of California has introduced a version of this bill in past Congresses.

The Mental Health in Schools Act will provide $200,000,000 in competitive grants of up to $1 million each. See the bill text here:

What you can do

Ask your Senators to sign on as co-sponsors to help build bi-partisan support. To take action right away, use our online email tool with suggested messaging:

If your Senator has already signed on as a co-sponsor, please send a quick thank you message to let her/him know how important this issue is to you.


There have been programs authorized by Congress in the past that have approached mental health in schools in a collaborative way. Many of these programs have been defunded or greatly reduced in funding, including Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative and Safe and Drug-free Schools program.

Whether it is new legislation passed that provides mental health services to students by increasing access to mental health professionals, or currently authorized programs that are refunded, there is a great need in schools and our communities for preventative and collaborative efforts. Professional school counselors should continue to  communicate to law makers that they are a necessary link for an effective referral process to outside mental health agencies and can ensure the whole child, including supports necessary  for academic success, is addressed when students are struggling with trauma and mental health related problems.  


  • 1 in 5 U.S. children and adolescents have some form of mental health issue (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • 70% of adolescents with mental health problems do not receive care (Journal of Adolescent Health, volume 38)
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 (National Institute of Mental Health report)
  • Among young people aged 10-14 years old, suicide rates have doubled in the last two decades (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
  • More than half of federal and state prison inmates have a diagnosable mental health problem (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • Children with mental health issues make $10,400 less per year as adults (Journal of Social Science and Medicine)
  • 4 in 10 currently unemployed parents say they have seen behavioral changes in their children due to their unemployment (NY Times/CBS Poll)
  • Behavioral and emotional problems decreased among 31 percent of youth with mental health issues after 6 months of receiving mental health care (SAMHSA report)
  • Within one year of entering a mental health program, youth attending school regularly increased from 75% to 81%, and those receiving passing grades increased from 55% to 66% (SAMHSA report)
  • Number of students involved in violent incidents decreased by 15% within three years of instating mental health programs (SAMHSA report)
  • Sixteen percent of students report lower depression, 21% lower anxiety, and 38% have better behavior after 1 year (SAMHSA report)
  • State mental health programs were cut nationally by 4 percent in 2009, 5 percent in 2010, and are estimated to be cut by more than 8% in 2011 ( July 19 2010)
  • Two thirds of school districts reported that the need for mental health services had increased since the previous year, and one third reported that funding for mental health services had decreased in that time (Foster et al., 2005).

* These facts can be found on Rep. Grace Napolitano’s webpage.

For more information:

Guila Todd

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Guila Todd

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(800) 347-6647

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