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May 03, 2021

King, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Support Youth Mental and Behavioral Health

Announcement coincides with Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

BRUNSWICK, ME – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) has joined a bipartisan group of Congressional leaders to introduce the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines (BIG) Act in order to support students’ mental and behavioral health. This legislation would enable the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in consultation with the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and a wide array of stakeholders – to develop best practices to help communities identify the earliest signs of violence to self or others. In addition to Senator King, the legislation is supported by Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Representatives Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Michael Burgess (R-Tex.), and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.).

“The challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic have made it even more essential that we prioritize support for our children’s mental health,” said Senator King. “In the days after a tragedy at a school, we too often hear of warning signs for an imminent crisis that went unaddressed. It’s time for a new approach, which lays out guidelines to help identify clear trouble signs for students who may pose a danger to themselves or others – so we can aim to prevent an emergency rather than just responding to one. Let’s pass this bipartisan legislation, so we can give local leaders the tools they need to help keep our communities safe and our children’s futures bright.”

The National Association of Behavior Intervention and Threat Assessment (NABITA) describes behavioral intervention as a “focus on a caring and preventive approach that incorporates the school, the district, community resources and the family to support the student. Teams intervene with specialized knowledge to identify the earliest signs of potential crisis rather than waiting for clear signs of an impending threat and reacting. Teams develop success plans for students that may include disability support, treatment requirements, and academic assistance.” Once established, these best practices are to be disseminated on the HHS department website and HHS would provide technical assistance for elementary, secondary, and higher education institutions that are looking to create their own behavioral intervention team.

This legislation is supported by the NABITA, Columbus State University, Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), Association for Title IX Administrators (ATIXA), National Association of School Psychologist (NASP), NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), School Superintendents Association, National School Boards Association, International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, Sandy Hook Promise, the Higher Education Case Manager’s Association (HECMA), and the Jed Foundation (JED).

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