The following is a campaign from NASSP for leaders to actively contact their legislators to take federal actions on five key areas to support the needs of districts to handle the mental health crisis we are experiencing across our nation. Please consider coping these words to use in your communications to legislators, on your social platforms, in all of your communications to your local community partners to also contact legislators and I thank NASSP for the powerful wording used below.
Schools across the country are experiencing a mental health crisis. Students and educators need more federal support, and Congress can do five key things right now that would tackle this growing crisis:
- Pass the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act
- Pass the Supporting the Mental Health of Educators and Staff Act
- Pass the Increasing Access to Mental Health in Schools Act
- Pass the Mental Health Services for Students Act
- Increase funding for mental and behavioral health services through Title IV, Part A, of ESSA
Our students and our schools cannot wait. We need action now! #PrincipalsForMentalHealth
According to NASSP’s recent Survey of America’s School Leaders and High School Students, three-quarters of school leaders (73%) and students (74%) report they needed help with their mental or emotional health last year. I can also tell you that oftentimes students’ mental health challenges manifest themselves as behavioral issues, putting further stress on educators who are already stretched too thin. One-half of school leaders (51%) reported in the survey student behavior is worse than before the pandemic, with the majority concerned about online bullying (85%), in-person/physical bullying (82%) and drug use (80%) in their school. A significant portion (82%) of school leaders also identified using federal funding to increase the number of school psychologists, counselors and other health professionals as important.
School leaders are uniquely positioned to leverage trauma-informed strategies to address the enormous wave of social, emotional, and mental health needs among students, but frankly, we need increased federal support to do it. For that reason, I support the following policies, and I urge you to take action on them:
- Cosponsor and pass the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act
- Cosponsor and pass the Supporting the Mental Health of Educators and Staff Act
- Cosponsor and pass the Increasing Access to Mental Health in Schools Act, H.R. 744
- Cosponsor and pass the Mental Health Services for Students Act
- Support increasing mental and behavioral health services funding for Title IV, Part A, of ESSA in FY 2024 appropriations to $1.48 billion.
Collectively, this legislation and funding would greatly expand our ability to recruit, hire, and train school based mental health professionals; require the Department of Education to research and disseminate student and educator mental health best practice guidance; establish new school mental health grant programs; and increase partnerships between schools and community mental health providers.
With this support, I truly believe that we can make great strides towards taking better care of our students and put them in a situation where they can succeed academically. For many, that simply isn’t possible while they are struggling to cope with intense mental health challenges. Please help us help them by supporting this important policy in 2023.
Over the past decade, we can see a trend of an increase in addressing the needs of mental health. The global pandemic added to this increase; in addition, the pressures of social media and societal changes increase the forces felt by not only our children but all.
Today is the day to begin to address these issues. We cannot wait any longer to start placing plans to act to help all of our children and adults. Consider also transitioning to a Two Rule school as you approach implementing all of these supports to provide everyone with the opportunity to feel good and feel safe at school. Be the solution daily in a world that needs you.