New Legislation Dedicates $300M to School-Behavioral Health Provider Partnerships

A group of U.S. senators have re-introduced a piece of legislation aimed at helping schools team up with local mental health providers to provide students with on-site services.

The legislation, dubbed the Mental Health Services for Students Act, would provide $300 million in funding to education agencies, tribal schools and community-based organizations to help foster the partnerships.

The legislation was re-introduced by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and co-sponsored by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).


“Providing mental health services to students at school — where they spend a significant portion of their time — helps them thrive,” Smith said in a statement. “It removes many barriers to access, such as trying to figure out how to leave school in the middle of the day, and promotes behavioral health equity.”

This bill comes at a time when the youth mental health crisis has reached a new high.

New data from the CDC released this week revealed that almost 15% of children aged 5 to 17 in the U.S. received mental health treatment in the last year.


“As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I’m proud of the committee’s bipartisan initiative to strengthen access to youth mental health in Oregon and nationwide,” Wyden said in a statement. “Youth mental health care can’t wait. And this bill would build on the Finance Committee’s work to help kids get the care they need in schools while also setting students up for a successful mindful future.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has designated hundreds of millions of dollars to boost pediatric behavioral health services. In 2022, the Biden administration pledged nearly $300 million to expand mental health services in schools.

This investment will likely continue into next year. In March, the White House released its 2024 budget proposal, which included funding for a number of pediatric-behavioral health initiatives.

“The Budget provides historic investments in the behavioral health workforce, youth mental health treatment, Certified Community Based Behavioral Health Clinics, Community Mental Health Centers, and mental health research,” the budget reads.

Additionally, a number of providers already partner with schools to help deliver services to children in need.

For example, virtual provider Hazel Health previously announced a partnership with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, LA Care Health Plan, Health Net and the LA County Department of Mental Health to offer students free access to behavioral health services.

Companies featured in this article: