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The ACA Government Affairs team strives to keep the counseling community connected with important legislative news, updates, and announcements that affect the profession. Questions? Want to get involved in our advocacy efforts? Email us at 


Feb 12, 2019

Help Support the Mental Health Services for Students Act

We need your help!

The American Counseling Association (ACA) needs your help to encourage members of Congress to support H.R 1109 the Mental Health for Student Act.  On February 8, 2019 Congressional Mental Health Caucus Co-Chairs, Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) and John Katko (R-NY), along with 56 original co-sponsors, proudly introduced H.R. 1109, the Mental Health Services for Students Act, to fund on-site mental health services for youth in schools nationwide.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately one in five children have a diagnosable mental illness.  It is also estimated that 75 percent of children with emotional and behavioral disorders do not receive specialty mental health services, despite the ability to diagnose these disorders as early as kindergarten in some cases. If passed, this bill would help by partnering with local mental health professionals to establish comprehensive on-site mental health services for students to succeed nationwide

How you can help

Contact your elected representatives to urge them to support this important bill and share your perspective as a Licensed Professional Counselor. As a mental health care provider, you know the impact early care can have, and the importance of being able to access mental and behavioral health support in your community. Message your representatives here or call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to be connected to their federal or local office. Phone calls are the best way to get the attention of staff and decision makers in congressional offices!

If you are available to meet with someone in your elected representatives’ state offices about the Mental Health for Students Act, contact Guila Todd by email to help set up a meeting.

If passed, the Mental Health Services for Students Act would: 

  • Provide access to more comprehensive on-site mental health care services for students and their communities by revising, increasing funding for, and expanding the scope of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Project AWARE Grants for State Educational Agencies which promote youth mental health awareness among schools and communities and improved connections to services for school-age youth.
  • Allow teachers to concentrate on teaching by providing comprehensive, culturally and linguistically appropriate services to support students in need of mental health care and those at-risk for behavioral mental health disorders.
  • Promote positive mental health education and support for parents, siblings, and other family members of children with mental health disorders, as well as concerned members of the community.  
  • Create a total of $200 million in grant funding for 100 schools across the country as well as educate the entire school community on the warning signs and symptoms of mental illness to help identify and treat mental health issues before they escalate.

“The Mental Health Services for Students Act builds on the great success of our youth suicide prevention program in Los Angeles County, where we are raising mental health awareness, reducing harmful stigma, and connecting our future leaders to life-saving care,” Rep.  Napolitano said. “Improved access to services for prevention, early identification, and intervention has helped countless youth in our communities thrive in school, at home, and in life, and it is a model that should be expanded to serve families across America.” 

“In Central New York and in communities nationwide, there is a critical need to improve access to mental and behavioral healthcare in our schools,” said Rep. John Katko. “Early intervention and preventative mental health programming is vital to treating and building better lives for the many children and families nationwide whose lives are impacted by mental illness.”

 Please click here for more information on the Mental Health Services for Students Act.

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