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Rep. Chu and Sen. Tester Introduce Bicameral Bill to Increase Access to Mental Health Care in Schools

May 31, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, as part of Mental Health Awareness Month, Representative Judy Chu (CA-27) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced H.R. 2958, the Increasing Access to Mental Health in Schools Act. This legislation would establish a grant program to increase the number of mental health professionals at low income schools by supporting partnerships between institutions of higher education and local education agencies to support teaching, training, and employment of school counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Professionals that participate in these partnerships would be eligible for student loan forgiveness after 5 years of employment at a low income school. Rep. Chu, one of two psychologists in Congress, and Sen. Tester released the following statements:

“As one of only two psychologists in Congress, I know that mental healthcare is no less essential than our physical healthcare. And that’s why I have worked to encourage more people to take care of their mental health. And yet, far too many mental health problems go undiagnosed and untreated because our schools lack the funding and staff needed to spot and address a problem early on, “said Rep. Chu. “Our students deserve better. That is why I am proud to work with Senator Tester to introduce the Increasing Access to Mental Health in Schools Act. This legislation aims to put more qualified professionals in schools that wouldn’t otherwise be able to support them, and also encourages more people to enter psychology and counseling as a career by defraying some costs in exchange for their service to our communities. This is a smart bill. It helps students, school districts, and the mental health services professions. All while meeting an urgent need. I’m grateful for Senator Tester’s work to introduce this bill in the Senate and I hope to see it receive consideration in both chambers of Congress.”

“In a rural state like Montana, our schools are often the first and only resources for kids with no other access to mental health care,” said Sen. Tester. “Providing schools with a way to hire more mental health care professionals will give kids the tools they need to be healthy, happy, and successful in the classroom.”