In Congress

113th Congress

Keep up-to-date on the Bazelon Center's policy interests by checking this page, signing up for Alerts and The Reporter, and exploring Where We Stand on the issues.

Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act of 2013 

  • Sponsor: Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • Summary: This bill amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to allow states, local educational agencies (LEAs), and schools to use school improvement funds to implement schoolwide positive behavioral interventions and supports and early intervening services, and coordinate them with similar activities carried out under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The bill requires states that receive funds for the education of neglected or delinquent children or youth to use positive behavioral interventions and supports, early intervening services, and school-based mental health programs to improve such students' academic performance and reduce their need for discipline. Among other provisions, the bill also focuses on suicide and drug abuse prevention.
  • Committee: Senate Health, Labor, and Pensions
  • Bill Text: S.689

Strengthening America’s Schools Act of 2013 (S. 1094)

  • Sponsor: Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • Summary: The bill reauthorizes and amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to: close the achievement gap and ensure full inclusion of students with disabilities; expand early learning opportunities so that all young children are prepared for school; reduce the educational disparities of disadvantaged students and new English learners; and improve school climate, instructional quality, student support services, and school-to-work transition planning. The bill's reporting requirements are intended to allow the public to see whether schools are addressing the needs of all their students, including subsets of students like students with emotional and behavioral disturbances who all to often leave or are excluded from school before obtaining a high school diploma. The bill also includes reporting requirements about incidences of school discipline, bullying, substance use, disciplinary transfers and detention, and law enforcement referrals, as well as measures that schools have taken—such as school mental health programs and school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports—to improve the learning environment, prevent problem behaviors, ensure schools safety, and address the needs of individual students. 
  • Committee: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • Bill Text: S.1094
  • Support Letter

Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013 (S. 195 / H.R. 628)

  • Sponsors: Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and Representative Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
  • Summary: The Mental Health in Schools Act would authorize increased funding for the Safe Schools/Healthy Communities program to expand access to school-based mental health services, training for school and community service providers working in schools, and educational programming for youth with mental health disorders (and their families), and the community. Local districts would be eligible to apply for competitive grants for the development of a comprehensive, trauma-informed and culturally-appropriate school mental health program and for specific initiatives—such as school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and community trainings about the signs of behavioral health problems and where in the community to go to receive help. The bill also authorizes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop standardized quality measures and requires participating schools to collect and submit data on program outcomes. The bill authorizes $200 million in grant funding per year over five years. Schools may apply for up to $1 million per grant year, based on the size of their student population.
  • Committee: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; House Energy and Commerce 
  • Bill text: S. 195 , H.R. 628

Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013 (H.R. 274 / S. 153) 

  • Sponsors: Representative Ron Barber (D-AZ) and Senator Mark Begich (D-AK )
  • Summary: The Mental Health First Act of 2013 amends the Public Health Service Act and authorizes $20 million in training grants for emergency services staff and first responders; law enforcement; school staff; community leaders; primary care providers; students in elementary, secondary, and higher education schools and their parents; veterans; and others. Mental health first aid training programs must provide live training in recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses, ways to safely de-escalate crisis situations, and how to help those in need of assistance to connect with appropriate local mental health agencies.  
  • Committee: House Energy and Commerce; Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • Bill Text: H.R. 274 , S. 153

Excellence in Mental Health Act (S. 264 /  H.R. 1263)

  • Sponsors: Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representative Doris O. Matsui (D-CA) 
  • Summary: This bill sets forth national criteria for certification of federally-qualified, behavioral health centers (FQBHCs)—a new designation for community-based mental health and addiction providers that provide comprehensive outpatient behavioral health services, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. It would  increase access to a comprehensive array of behavioral health services, including peer support, targeted case management, rehabilitation services, mobile crisis care (available at any time), cognitive behavioral therapy, supported employment, supported housing, assertive community treatment (ACT), therapeutic foster care, and other recovery-oriented care. The bill also requires the centers to provide specified primary care screening and to partner with primary care providers, such as federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs), to ensure that people with mental health and addictions disorders receive needed medical treatment and preventive care. Medicaid reimbursement to FQBHCs would be based on a bundled payment rate and FQBHCs would be eligible to apply for federal mental health infrastructure grants to construct or modernize facilities.  
  • Committee: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • Bill Text: S. 264, H.R. 1263

Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization of 2013 (S. 116)

  • Sponsor: Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
  • Summary: The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act Reauthorization of 2013 would provide grant funding to states for suicide prevention programs in schools, higher education, and juvenile justice, behavioral health, and foster care programs. Funds could be used for public education and outreach activities, trainings for professionals, and early interventions and treatment. The bill also would establish a national Suicide Prevention Technical Assistance Center to develop best practices and knowledge about causes and risk factors for suicide, tools to evaluate intervention strategies, public awareness programs, and training curricula for providers and others serving youth and young adults.
  • Committee: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • Bill Text: S. 116

Children’s Trauma Recovery Act (S. 380)

  • Sponsor: Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Summary: This measure would reauthorize the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI), which provides support for children and families affected by trauma and works to improve the standard of care by promoting evidence-based and trauma-informed practices in all child-serving systems. The bill would provide support for a national collaborative network of child trauma centers through grants for university and hospital centers, as well as support for the national NCTSI coordinating center. The center is responsible for the organization of the network, the development of effective interventions and training initiatives to promote greater uptake of evidence-based practices, and the collection and analysis of outcome data from network sites. The bill also authorizes grants for diverse community-based organizations that provide services to children and families affected by trauma, and would increase the authorization from $50 million to $100 million annually through fiscal year 2024.
  • Committee:  Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
  • Bill Text: S. 380

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