Reps. Wild, Fitzpatrick, Trone Introudce Bipartisan Higher Education Mental Health Act of 2019
Today, U.S. Representative Susan Wild (PA-07) joined Rep. David Trone (MD-06) to introduce the Higher Education Mental Health Act of 2019, a bill that seeks to address the growing number of students in higher education with mental health concerns. Wild, along with Reps. John Joyce (R-PA), Donna Shalala (D-FL), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) are original cosponsors of the bill, which is backed by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in the United States Senate.
This bill would establish a national commission to study the mental health concerns of students at institutions of higher education. The commission would include stakeholders that represent disability and student advocacy groups, institutions of higher education, individuals and students with mental health disabilities and family members of students enrolled in an institution of higher education.
The bill would also require the commission to release a report at the end of its investigation that examines the services available to students with mental health disabilities and the current policies in place to help students remain in school and complete their degrees. The report will also provide detailed recommendations that institutions of higher education, states, and the federal government can make to improve the mental health services available to students and properly address the rising number of students with mental health concerns.
“As a country, we have to begin taking mental health concerns seriously, and that starts by listening. By bringing everyone to the table – advocates, experts, stakeholders, and students – to help better understand the unique mental health needs of college-age students, we can better advocate for policy initiatives that truly support their needs here in Congress,” Wild said. “The Higher Education Mental Health Commission Act takes a necessary step toward making sure every student gets the support they need, and has an equal chance to succeed.”
“I recently met with college presidents and students in our region, and I heard loud and clear that mental health is a growing concern for students across the country,” Trone said. “We need to ensure our colleges and universities have the resources they need to provide our students with top notch mental health care. This bipartisan bill will help us identify the actions we need to take to set our students up for success.”
“I applaud Rep. Trone for introducing the Higher Education Mental Health Act. As Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health reported in January, identifying and putting into practice methods for supporting students with mental health needs will benefit our youth, their families and the colleges and universities that serve them,” Casey said. “I look forward to working with Rep. Trone to pass this important legislation.”
“Ensuring that young people, who are incredibly susceptible to mental health issues, get the care and attention they require should not be a partisan issue,” Joyce said. “As a physician, I’m proud to be working across the aisle on the Higher Education Mental Health Act so we can diagnose the growing trend of students suffering from psychological issues and develop the proper plans to reverse it.”
“As a former leader of three institutions of higher education, I’ve seen first-hand the immense stresses students face as they work to obtain their degrees,” Shalala said. “Education is hard, but it should empower and inspire students, not leave them feeling broken. We need to take mental health at colleges and universities seriously, and this bill will give schools the resources to do just that,” said Rep. Shalala.
“A key component of mental health is early detection and treatment,” Fitzpatrick said. “With 75 percent of mental health conditions appearing before 24 years of age, it is important that institutions of higher learning have the professional resources and capabilities to improve retention rates and allow students to succeed. I am confident this bipartisan legislation will provide stronger learning environments in our nation’s colleges and universities.”
"Today, among college students, there is an increasing demand for mental health services that far exceeds the available mental health resources,” said Wallace D. Loh, President of the University of Maryland, College Park. “Their well-being, academic success, and future careers are at stake. I appreciate Congressman Trone's leadership on how to expand access to these greatly needed services."
“Providing the mental health services our students need is a challenge all colleges and universities are actively attempting to address. The Higher Education Mental Health Act of 2019, which is being introduced by Congressman David Trone, creates a structure for developing innovative strategies through a broad-based commission composed of experts in this field. I applaud this initiative, and plan to work for its passage,” said Dr. Richard Midcap, President of Garrett College.
“Attending college and receiving job training is a stressful time, whether or not a person has a mental health issue. There is pressure to perform well, as well as manage academic demands, family obligations, and often job responsibilities. In some cases, it impacts the ability of a student to remain in College and complete the credentials needed to be successful. At Allegany College of Maryland we are very supportive of research driven approaches to improve access to mental health services and in turn, increase retention and graduation rates, as well as prepare students to meet the needs of our communities,” said Dr. Cynthia S. Bambara, President of Allegany College.
“We have seen an increase in students seeking counseling for more serious mental health issues,” said Frederick Community College President Elizabeth Burmaster. “We support this important legislation as it will better equip higher education professionals to respond to this complex issue.”
“As the president of a university that is responding to an increased need for student mental health services, I applaud Rep. David Trone’s bill to form a national commission to study students’ mental health concerns,” said Tim Trainor, President of Mount St. Mary’s University. “Higher education institutions would greatly appreciate a partnership with state and federal governments to improve mental health services and support the growing number of students with mental health concerns.”
“Addressing mental health needs for students is especially critical. Many students who attend community colleges are working multiple jobs, while caring for families, or are striving to learn new skills in a changing job market. Moreover, those students who have recently come to the U.S. from other countries can face significant cultural barriers. The stress of managing and coping with these and everyday challenges can be overwhelming and create serious mental health concerns,” said Dr. DeRionne Pollard, President of Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland. “Through Rep. Trone’s foresight, this commission will help us identify the strategies and resources that can provide support for students before they experience debilitating mental health problems. When we make addressing mental health needs a priority, our students can thrive and achieve their goals for college and their lives.”
You can learn more about the Higher Education Mental Health Act of 2019 here.
You can read the entire bill text here.