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Mental Health Awareness Training Included in Major Education Reauthorization

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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Mental Health Awareness Training Included in Major Education Reauthorization

July 16, 2015 | Mental Health First Aid | Comments
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Bipartisan legislation to support mental health awareness programs for school personnel was approved by the U.S. Senate as an amendment to the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177). The amendment is based on the Mental Health First Aid Act (S. 711), stand-alone legislation introduced by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that would expand Mental Health First Aid training and help members of the community identify, understand, and address crisis situations safely.

“Ensuring school personnel have critical mental health first aid training will improve the safety and well-being of students and schools in New Hampshire and around the country,” Ayotte said. “I’m pleased this legislation was adopted by the Senate today – our schools need teachers and faculty who understand the early warning signs of mental illness and can provide immediate support to students who may be struggling.”

“This legislation would provide critical training and resources to help educators recognize and respond to the earliest signs and symptoms of mental illness,” said Blumenthal. “Such programs are essential to helping teachers safely deescalate crises and refer students to appropriate mental health service providers at critical times – steps that would reduce the number of crisis situations and make our schools safer.”

Ayotte and Blumenthal helped introduce similar bipartisan legislation last Congress, and provisions of their bill were included in the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act, which received 95 votes on the Senate floor when it was offered as an amendment.

The amendment to S. 1177 would support mental health awareness training programs that:

  • Allow school personnel to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness;
  • Provide education to school personnel regarding available resources in the community for students who may be struggling with mental illnesses; or
  • Provide education to school personnel regarding ways to safely de-escalate crisis situations.

The National Council strongly supports the amendment and commends Senators Ayotte and Blumenthal for their commitment to expanding Americans’ awareness of mental health and substance use conditions. We encourage the Senate to approve the amended bill as it votes on the Every Child Achieves Act today.

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