WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) lead passage of two pieces of bipartisan legislation to strengthen mental health services for college students and help prevent suicide, drug, and alcohol abuse on campuses.
The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act (H.R. 5407) directs the Department of Education to encourage institutions of higher education to strengthen and expand mental health services, including suicide prevention plans, to better support students’ needs.
“The surging mental health needs of students on college campuses have further strained campus-based mental health care providers. Since the start of the pandemic, campus counseling centers have been forced to respond to an increased demand for services without the funding, staffing, and resources that they need. Regrettably, insufficient access to mental health care during the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing mental health inequities,” said Chairman Scott. “The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act is the legislation we need to help to ensure that our institutions of higher education are equipped to support students’ mental health – both during the pandemic and into the future.”
The Campus Prevention and Recovery Services for Students Act of 2022 (H.R. 6493) would reauthorize the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Provision of the Higher Education Act; and help institutions of higher education prioritize evidence-based programs in campus prevention and recovery efforts .
“Even before the pandemic, there was a rising demand for substance prevention and recovery programs on campuses. And unfortunately, the pandemic only exacerbated the mental health and student well-being crisis,” said Chairman Scott. “If we want to tackle the mental health crisis head on and help our students reach their full potential, then we must invest in their well-being. The Campus Prevention and Recovery Services for Students Act will provide both the guidance and funding to help make sure students have the tools they need to reach their full potential.”
The House approved the bills as students across the country grapple with a mental health crisis that was significantly worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a 2021 national survey, 65 percent of students reported having fair or poor mental health, yet only 15 percent of students engaged in college-offered counseling.
Moreover, research confirms that historically underserved students have faced significant disparities in access to mental health services since before COVID-19. For example, a 2015 survey indicated that students of color are two times less likely to be diagnosed or treated for mental health conditions than white students.
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