Skip to content

June 06, 2024

King Seeking to Bolster School Mental Health Resources for Students

15% of Maine children aged 6-11 have an ongoing mental health condition that requires treatment, counseling

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Angus King is co-sponsoring legislation to boost the availability of mental health providers in public schools across Maine and the nation. The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act would establish a five-year renewable grant program to help elementary and secondary schools hire additional school-based mental health providers such as counselors, psychologists and social workers.

According to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 15% of Maine children aged 6-11 have an ongoing emotional, developmental or behavior condition that requires treatment or counseling, and one in six Maine children, according to data from the John T. Gorman Foundation, have been diagnosed with anxiety.

“Schools in Maine and across the country are struggling to fund resources and staff to deliver counseling and mental health services for students,” said Senator King. “Advocating for the academic success of our young people means ensuring they have access to professionals that can also help them grow socially and emotionally. The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act is another step forward in making sure our schools have the resources to help our children succeed and thrive both in and out of the classroom.”

The recommended maximum student-to-counselor ratio is 250 students per counselor, but currently, the national average is 385 students per counselor and continues to rise. For school psychologists, the recommended maximum ratio is 500 students per provider, and 250 to 1 for school social workers.

Students are 21 times more likely to visit school-based health centers for mental health than community mental health centers, but school districts across America too often lack the resources to provide students with the in-school treatment and care they need and deserve. Additionally, schools that employ more school-based health providers see improved attendance rates, academic achievement and career preparation, and graduation rates, and lower rates of suspension, expulsion, and other disciplinary incidents.

The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), John Fetterman (D-PA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MN), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Senator King is supportive of providing additional resources to bolster mental health services for youth across Maine. This past fall, he introduced bipartisan legislation to promote healthy childhoods for children across the country.

A copy of the bill can be found here.


Next Article » « Previous Article