Tillis offers bill to help school districts tackle student mental health crisis

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), founder and co-chair of the Senate Mental Health Caucus, on March 21 signed on as an original cosponsor of a bipartisan bill that aims to help bridge the gap between schools in need and available mental health resources.

“I’m committed to ending the stigma surrounding mental health and ensuring students have access to necessary resources and support services,” Sen. Tillis said on Tuesday. 

The Creating Access and Resources in Education (CARE) for Student Mental Health Act, S. 4041, which U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) sponsored alongside three other original cosponsors, including U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), would help schools apply for federal mental health grants funded in part by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, landmark legislation that Sen. Tillis helped write and pass into law in 2022.

“This legislation builds on the historic Bipartisan Safer Communities Act by further expanding access to school-based mental health care that is critically important as students navigate the challenges of today,” said Sen. Tillis. “Crucially, this legislation helps provide mental health professionals to the communities that need them the most.”

Specifically, S. 4041 would clarify the distinction, purpose, and allowable activities of each grant to help eligible entities quickly determine which grant best meets their needs, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

The bill also would require the U.S. Department of Education to improve notification and technical assistance for potential grantees to enable more school districts with limited administrative capacity to apply and compete for the federal grants, the summary says.

Additionally, S. 4041 would authorize and streamline the Strengthening the Pipeline of School-Based Mental Health Services Providers Program, and authorize the School-Based Mental Health Services Program, states the summary.

The legislation has garnered support from numerous groups, including the National Association of School Psychologists, the American School Health Association, the Council of Administrators of Special Education, the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy, & Action, the Healthy Schools Campaign, and the National Association of Elementary School Principals, among many others.