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According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4 in 10 high school students feel persistently sad or hopeless

Young people who receive peer support report improvements in self-esteem, effective coping, and recovery from mental health conditions

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced two bills to combat the youth mental health crisis by making peer and school-based mental health support more accessible and providing actionable data on youth mental health. The Supporting All Students Act would establish a youth peer-to-peer support line and federal funding for schools to hire mental health coordinators. The Youth Mental Health Data Act, which is also cosponsored by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), would develop a national strategy to improve data systems on youth mental health. 

“Our Nation is facing a youth mental health crisis. Without adequate support, too many children struggling with their mental health suffer at home, in the classroom, and with their peers,” said Senator Casey. “These bills will help break down barriers to mental health support for young people across the country.” 

“We thank Senator Casey for his leadership on highlighting the behavioral health needs of children, teens and young adults – and offering solutions. Today, suicide is the second leading cause of death among our children and more than 60% of kids who experience a depressive episode do not receive treatment. The Supporting All Students Act offers common sense, immediate and effective policy solutions.  It provides states with funding to hire school-based mental health coordinators. Bringing more mental health resources to our schools, where children spend most of their time, is just common sense,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus Campaign for Children. “The bill would also establish a peer-to-peer support line as part of the ongoing, national 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.  We look forward to working with the Senator to advance the mental health needs of our children and provide them with resources for prevention and recovery.”

The Supporting All Students Act would establish a youth peer-to-peer support line that is integrated with 988, the national mental health crisis and suicide prevention number. Specifically aimed at youth ages 10-25, this line would provide youth with support from a trained peer responder, supervised by licensed mental health professionals, on a variety of issues such as relationship or family problems, academic or athletics-related stress, feelings of depression or anxiety, and bullying. This bill would also establish a new grant program run through the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for schools to hire mental health coordinators, with priority given to schools in high-poverty areas.

The bill is supported by: American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association Services, the Children’s Defense Fund, First Focus Campaign for Children, Family Voices, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the National League for Nursing, Primary Care Development Corporation, the School-Based Health Alliance, the School Social Work Association of America, the Youth Power Project, and Youth Villages.

The Youth Mental Health Data Act would create a federal task force on youth mental health data integration to develop a national strategy to improve youth mental health data systems. The task force would be comprised of representatives from federal agencies, medical societies and nonprofits, youth with lived experience, and media and technology companies. Additionally, the task force would submit a report to the governors of all states describing opportunities for local and state level partnerships. With the help of streamlined data processes, policymakers can maximize the effect of current and future investments by targeting resources based on where they will have the greatest impact.

Read more about the Supporting All Students Act here.

Read more about the Youth Mental Health Data Act here.