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School-based mental health

Grassroots advocacy leads to key win on student mental health

Senate version of school mental health legislation introduced following advocacy as part of APA Services education advocacy summit this summer.

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American Psychological Association. (2021, September 13). Grassroots advocacy leads to key win on student mental health.

Teacher and student smiling at one another

Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) introduced the Senate version of the Comprehensive Mental Health in Schools Pilot Program Act (S.2730), following meetings with APA President-elect Frank Worrell, PhD, and federal advocacy coordinator, Paul Marcille, PhD, from the California Psychological Assocation (CPA) during the APA Services Education Advocacy Summit in July. The bill was originally drafted in collaboration with APA and introduced in the House in May by Representative David Trone (D-MD). The legislation would provide resources for low-income schools to develop a holistic approach to student well-being through comprehensive school-based mental health service programs. The bill would also provide funding for training educators and other school staff on how to integrate social and emotional learning and evidence-based, trauma-informed practices into all aspects of the school environment.

Securing a Senate companion bill was one of the key goals for the advocacy summit and the win serves as a prime example of the strength of engaging psychologists in grassroots advocacy, both at the federal and state levels. The longstanding relationship between the CPA and Senator Padilla while he was in state government highlights the importance of developing strong state relationships to leverage our federal and state advocacy efforts. 

“The American Psychological Association applauds Senator Padilla for introducing this critical legislation that acknowledges the interactive relationship among the cognitive, social, emotional, and academic development of children and the importance of fostering positive, equitable classroom climates,” said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans, Jr., PhD. “By providing training for educators and other school staff on evidence-based, trauma-informed practices, and ensuring that the overall well-being of students is the responsibility of the entire school community, the Comprehensive Mental Health in Schools Pilot Program Act recognizes the role that psychological science plays in student learning and mental health.”

For more information, contact Kenneth Polishchuk.