The U.S. Department of Education recently released a fact sheet on steps that it is taking to combat the mental health crisis that young people are facing.

More than 40% of teenagers state that they struggle with persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and more than half of parents and caregivers express concern over their children’s mental well-being, the USDOE states.

The fact sheet highlights two new actions the department is taking to tackle the crisis.

  1. Awarding the first of nearly $300 million secured through the fiscal year 2022 bipartisan omnibus agreement to expand access to mental health services in schools. The Department of Education will begin disbursing almost $300 million Congress appropriated in fiscal year 2022 through both the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the fiscal year 2022 omnibus agreement to help schools hire more school-based mental health professionals and build a strong pipeline into the profession for the upcoming school year. In total, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will invest $1 billion over the next five years in mental health supports in our schools. This funding is allocated to two critical programs:
  • The Mental Health Service Professional Demonstration Grant Program. In fiscal year 2022, this program will provide over $140 million in competitive grants to support a strong pipeline into the mental health profession, including innovative partnerships to prepare qualified school-based mental health services providers for employment in schools.
  • School-Based Mental Health Services Grant Program. In fiscal year 2022, this program will provide over $140 million in competitive grants to states and school districts to increase the number of qualified mental health services providers delivering school-based mental health services to students in local educational agencies with demonstrated need. This will increase the number of school psychologists, counselors and other mental health professionals serving students.

In coming months, the department will seek to expand access to mental health services and supports in schools, including fostering trauma-informed services in schools and expanding mental health services through full-service community schools. You can read more about these efforts in the fact sheet.

  1. Encouraging governors to invest more in school-based mental health services.

In a letter sent to governors across the country, the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services highlight federal resources available to states and schools to invest in mental health services for students. The joint letter highlights actions to improve the delivery of health care in schools and make sure children enrolled in Medicaid have access to comprehensive health care services, as required by law. The letter also previews forthcoming Medicaid guidance on how states can leverage Medicaid funding to deliver critical mental health care services to more students, including ways to make it easier to bill Medicaid for these services.

An additional $1.7 billion for mental health is headed to schools and communities thanks to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The fact sheet details the provisions of that legislation.