Rep. Wild Calls For Legislative Action on Student Mental Health Needs During COVID-19
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) led 17 of her colleagues in a bipartisan effort urging the mental health needs of young adults be addressed in any upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation, and for her bill, the Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act, to be included in the forthcoming legislative package.
“Our young people are hurting. In the face of COVID-19, suicide prevention organizations are seeing increased reach outs from younger generations – with so many incredible colleges and universities in the Greater Lehigh Valley, we must ensure campuses are equipped to deal with the mental health needs of their students in the coming months,” Wild said. “I am calling for my bill, the Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act, to be included in any upcoming COVID-19 package because mental health support is critical in the immediacy and for the long-term health of our communities. The evidence-based strategies outlined in my bill will go a long way toward meeting the increasing mental health needs of our nation’s young adults during and after this crisis.”
In 2018, more than 300,000 college students attempted suicide and 1,400 died by suicide. Currently, in the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals between the ages of 15-24, with 6,252 deaths by suicide in 2017. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic this crisis among young people has been exacerbated and the Crisis Text Line, a national crisis counseling service, has reported an increase in call volume from 18 to 24 year-olds. Starting in early April, the Crisis Text Line was seeing between 47 to 116 percent more texts per day than it received on an average day before the COVID-19 crisis.
Introduced by Wild last September, H.R. 4327, The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention on College Campuses Act helps fill the gap in unmet mental health needs of college students by requiring the Department of Education to coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage institutions of higher education to develop and implement comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention plans.
“As a result of this pandemic, teenagers and young adults are facing lost social contact, disruption or cancellation of major life events, loss and grief from the death of family members, family disputes, and increased domestic violence,” wrote the lawmakers in the letter. “Now is the time for Congress to step up in a bipartisan way to address the mental health needs of college students. We believe that if institutions of higher education are better equipped by the federal government with the tools to address the mental health needs of their students, we can mitigate the traumatic stress that many college students are experiencing.”
The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention on College Campuses Act is endorsed by 9 organizations including the American Psychological Association, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Jed Foundation, and the Trevor Project. Wild’s letter is cosigned by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Grace Napolitano (CA-23), Kendra Horn (OK-05), Haley Stevens (MI-11), Lauren Underwood (IL-14), David Trone (MD-06), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), David Cicilline (RI-01), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Shelia Jackson Lee (TX-18), and Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02).