Mental Health America Joins
Mental Health in Schools Act
Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or email@example.com
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (February 17, 2011)-Mental Health America today joined with a wide spectrum of organizations in supporting the Mental Health in Schools Act.
The legislation was introduced by Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus.
A letter of support sent to Napolitano and signed by Mental Health America states:
"We share your vision for expanding the availability of comprehensive school-based mental health services for students in communities across America. Undoubtedly, healthier students learn and perform better and a key component of academic success is addressing the mental health of our nation's children and adolescents.
"According to a 2009 Institute of Medicine report on mental health prevention and promotion, 50 percent of individuals with a mental health diagnosis first experience it by age 14, 75 percent by age of 24. Given the early onset of emotional and behavioral disorders and their subsequent indirect and direct costs (estimated at $247 billion annually), investments in early intervention programs, especially those that better connect behavioral health and education systems, should be prioritized.
"This legislation is needed to break the cycle of failure that is a result of ignored mental health problems. This important legislation builds on the highly-effective program known as the Safe Schools/Healthy Students program, it authorizes competitive grants to local school districts to assist them in early interventions and referrals for treatment, it provides supports for students and their families, and it allows for staff training to be culturally and linguistically appropriate.
"The Mental Health in Schools Act will work to greatly improve the success of children with mental health issues in our school systems by endorsing Positive Behavioral Supports (PBS). School-wide PBS has emerged as a successful strategy to prevent school violence, the use of alcohol and drugs, possession of firearms and general disruptive behavior. The literature summarizing studies of school-wide PBS suggests that, on average, PBS schools see improvements in social climate and academic performance and experience 20- to 60-percent reductions in disciplinary incidents. Furthermore, the improved behavior enables teachers to use more classroom time for education.
"Your bill recognizes that mental disorders are prevalent among our nation's youth and the introduction of your bill is an important step in addressing our nation's mental health crisis among youth. The Act would also provide communities with much needed assistance in developing policies to address child and adolescent mental health issues and violence when and if it occurs. The effect of the Act will be to create a much more positive environment for children with mental health issues in our local communities. We strongly urge the House to pass this legislation as soon as possible."
For more information on the legislation, go to http://www.napolitano.house.gov/mhsa.shtml.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. With our century of service to America and our more than 300 affiliates nationwide, we represent a national movement that promotes mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation- everyday and in times of crisis.