Page 6 THE REVERE ADVOCATE – FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2024 Whip Clark Introduces a Pair of Bills to Address the Youth Mental Health Crisis During Mental Health Awareness Month W ASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, as Americans mark Mental Health Awareness Month, Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (MA-5) introduced the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act and the Trauma-Informed Schools Act — two comprehensive, bicameral bills that address America’s youth mental health crisis. “America is in the throes of a mental health crisis, and our kids are experiencing the worst of it,” said Whip Clark. “Overcoming this epidemic means equipping our schools with trained, trauma-informed professionals who can help students navigate whatever challenges they may encounter, both in and out of the classroom. I’m proud to introduce these bills to bring urgently needed resources to our schools and ensure our kids have the tools they need to thrive.” The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act, coled by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Reps. Ted Lieu (CA-36), Jahana Hayes (CT-5), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), and Linda Sánchez (CA-38), will expand mental health care services on elementary, middle, and high school campuses nationwide by providing states with grants to help ensure that every school can meet recommended counselor-to-student ratios. “Mental health care is essential health care. But as I meet with educators and students from across Oregon and hear from parents during town halls, one of their top concerns is that our schools aren’t reJOHN MACKEY & ASSOCIATES ~ Attorneys at Law ~ * PERSONAL INJURY * REAL ESTATE * FAMILY LAW * PERSONAL BANKRUPTCY * LANDLORD/TENANT DISPUTES 14 Norwood Street Everett, MA 02149 Phone: (617) 387-4900 Fax: (617) 381-1755 WWW.JMACKEYLAW.COM                                 ceiving the funding they need to deliver the counseling services students deserve,” said Senator Merkley. “That’s unacceptable, and it’s putting the lives of our children at risk. Now is the time for Congress to commit to ensuring that every child in America has access to quality mental health care.” “The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act addresses the critical shortage of mental health counselors in public schools across our nation,” said Rep. Lieu. “The social and emotional support of a school counselor can make a real diff erence in a student’s ability to thrive and succeed in school. It is time that we provide public schools with the resources they need to hire additional counselors so our students can feel safe and supported as they learn and grow.” “Supporting children in school also means providing resources to support their social and emotional needs. Schools are in desperate need of more mental health providers to ensure we are immediately addressing students in need,” said Rep. Hayes. “The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act will help fi ll vacant school-based mental health provider roles so all students can have access to resources that promote their mental wellbeing and educational success.” “Having access to high quality mental health resources and a strong support system                                                       at school is so important to the health and wellbeing of our young people,” said Rep. Underwood. “The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act will make sure schools have the resources they need to properly support our kids and help them thrive.” “Preparing students for the future is about more than just their academic development, it’s also about helping them develop socially and emotionally,” said Rep. Sánchez. “Unfortunately, there is a shortage of school counselors, psychologists, nurses and social workers to help students progress. Our bill will close that gap, giving more students access to counseling and mental health support.” The Trauma-Informed Schools Act, co-led by Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Reps. Andrea Salinas (OR-6), Mike Quigley (IL-5), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1) would formally define “trauma-informed practices” in the federal education code and ensure that states and school districts can provide educators with professional development opportunities to optimize their support of students suff ering from adverse childhood experiences. “Young students are experiencing unique challenges in school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased social media use, and lack of access to mental health care. More than 1 in 5 young people today struggle with their mental health, and that number is rising. We need to do more to provide them with the support they need to succeed,” said Senator Smith. “I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation, which will help schools address childhood trauma and build positive school cultures so that all students and adults are welcome and supported in school buildings.” “Trauma is diffi cult for anyone to process, but for children and teens, it can be especially life-changing and impact their ability to succeed in the classroom,” said Rep. Salinas. “Our bipartisan bill will help ensure educators are properly trained to guide students who have lived through adverse and potentially traumatic experiences. As Co-Chair of the Mental Health Caucus, I am proud to lead this legislation with my colleagues and I will continue working to provide more young people with the support and resources they need to thrive.” “Students who have experienced trauma deserve a public school system that fosters a safe and supportive environment. I’m proud to be part of the team introducing legislation that will provide critical funding to enable teachers to fi ll that need,” said Rep. Quigley. “Giving educators training and resources in traumainformed practices will ensure that students are set up for success and can process past experiences in a way that does not derail their education goals. Every child deserves a chance to reach their full potential and this bill is a necessary avenue to accomplishing that.” “I am proud to support the bipartisan Trauma-Informed Schools Act to increase access to resources for children who have experienced immense trauma in their lives,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “Experiencing trauma at a young age can impact children’s learning ability and social development during a crucial period of their lives. Currently, there are limited resources available to facilitate trauma-informed care. This legislation will address this need for our kids and ensure they are supported.” In December 2021, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy issued an advisory highlighting the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis. Before the pandemic, mental health challenges were the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people. Pandemic-era disruptions have exacerbated those challenges. Today, national surveys of youth show major increases in symptoms such as depression and suicidal ideation. Trauma and resulting mental health challenges hamper children’s ability to learn, form healthy relationships, regulate their emotions, and achieve success in and out of the classroom. Youth with access to mental health service providers in their school are 10 times more likely to seek care than youth without access, but school districts across America lack the resources to provide students with the inschool treatment they need. Many also lack the resources necessary to train educators on trauma-informed practices that foster a safe environment for students.

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