Sinema Expands Student Mental Healthcare in New Bill

Sinema Expands Student Mental Healthcare in New Bill

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
April 1, 2024

Are the kids alright? Statistics have suggested the mental health of schoolchildren is in serious trouble, sparking discussions of causes and solutions from parents and lawmakers. One such lawmaker is Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), who has recently introduced a bill expanding mental health services in schools nationwide, promoting the hiring and retaining of professionals such as counselors and psychologists.

Named the CARE for Student Mental Health Act, Sen. Sinema's bill uses the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that became law in 2022 as a blueprint, which included provisions and grants for mental health services including de-escalation and crisis response training, the introduction of mobile crisis teams to areas lacking such groups, and other benefits described by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Sen. Sinema's CARE Act takes the provisions from the Safer Communities Act further and broadens access to mental health grants distributed by the U.S. Department of Education, allowing schools to hire and retain mental health professionals such as guidance counselors, social workers, and psychologists that can adequately address the needs of students.

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According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 69% of public schools reported more students seeking mental health services in April 2022 after the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 13% of public schools strongly agreeing they could provide such services adequately, while 43% agreed they could.

The crisis deepens at the college level, as a National Education Association report from last March suggested 60% of college students were facing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. More alarmingly, 15% of surveyed students spoke of suicidal ideation, the highest rate since the survey was first conducted.

In her press release, Sinema said, "Children should learn in healthy and safe environments. Building on our Bipartisan Safer Communities law, our new bipartisan legislation will strengthen comprehensive school mental health services to Arizona students."

The bipartisan bill was cosponsored by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jon Tester (R-MT), and John Cornyn (R-TX).

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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