On Thursday, September 29, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Mental Health Matters Act (H.R. 7780) with bipartisan support by a vote of 220-205. The bill seeks to address the mental health needs of students, families, and educators that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Mental Health Matters Act would provide $200 million annually to increase the number of school-based mental health providers, including social workers. The grants would support high-need local educational agencies, which include agencies where there is not more than one school social worker per 250 students. Grant funding may also be used to utilize best practices established by NASW and other leading national mental health organizations.
The legislation also providers $5 billion for fiscal year 2023 and such sums as may be necessary for each subsequent fiscal year for states to award competitive subgrants to local educational agencies to increase access to school-based mental health providers at high-need schools.
NASW has steadfastly advocated for federal proposals to increase access to school social workers. For example, NASW endorsed the School Social Workers Improving Student Success Act (H.R. 7037), provisions of which were included in the Mental Health Matters Act. This legislation was introduced by Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), and NASW was quoted in the Press Release upon introduction.
NASW continues to work with Congress to develop and pass legislation that improves mental health care for students, families, and educators.
School Social Workers Improving Student Success Act (H.R. 7037) Action Alert