Scott helps lead bipartisan bill to enhance college students’ mental health

Bipartisan legislation proposed on Sept. 28 by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) would promote comprehensive campus mental health and suicide prevention plans designed to counteract rising anxiety and depression among college students.

“Mental health issues have skyrocketed on college campuses, where students struggle with depression and anxiety at an alarming rate,” Sen. Scott said.  “Sadly many students — particularly those at smaller universities with fewer resources — lack the help they need. This bill will help address those gaps and enable students to focus on what matters: their friends, their activities, and most importantly, their education.”

Rep. Scott signed on as the lead original cosponsor of the Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act, S. 4970, with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and four other original cosponsors, including U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). 

Sen. Blumenthal said the nation is in the midst of a youth mental health crisis with anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide growing among college students. “Our bill aims to ensure colleges are prepared with the best evidence-based plans to promote positive mental health on campus and to support students when they need help the most,” he said. 

If enacted, the bill would amend the Higher Education Act to provide for increased coordination between the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and encourage higher education institutions to create proactive plans for preventing suicide and promoting positive mental health among students, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

S. 4970 is the companion bill to the same-named H.R. 5407, introduced in September 2021 by U.S. Reps. Susan Wild (D-PA) and Fred Keller (R-PA) and passed in June by the U.S. House of Representatives. S. 4970 has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which is also reviewing the House-approved H.R. 5407.