Mental and Behavioral Health Crisis Continues to Affect Colorado’s Youth
On Tuesday, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet welcomed more than $9 million to Colorado in funding from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) to provide students with safer and healthier learning environments.
“There’s a whole generation of Americans that have grown up feeling unsafe at school as a result of our country’s gun violence epidemic. Following two years of COVID-19 and skyrocketing social media use, our children also face increased rates of depression, anxiety, trauma, and other mental and behavioral health crises that affect their ability to learn and succeed at school,” said Bennet. “People are demanding action to protect our children — and through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, we have made important progress to create safer educational environments.”
Through the BSCA, Congress provided funding to states to develop grant programs that provide students with safer and healthier learning environments. State education agencies must award these funds competitively to schools that lack the resources to hire enough school-based mental health providers. The BSCA also included funding to improve treatment programs for children and adults who have experienced trauma.
On Monday, through the BCSA, the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services also announced three new grant programs to increase access to mental and behavioral health services for students, young people, and children.
Bennet, whose career includes a stretch of time as the Denver Public School District Superintendent, has long been a leading voice in Congress seeking bipartisan action on our nation’s ongoing mental and behavioral health crisis. In September 2021, Bennet released a whitepaper entitled ‘A Bold Vision for America’s Mental Well-being’ with U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) to build bipartisan consensus on redesigning our nation’s mental health care system and reevaluating federal funding toward this effort.
This June, Bennet took to the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to pass the BSCA on the same day as the Supreme Court ruled to weaken gun safety laws for the first time in a decade, underscoring the need for Congress to act.
As this school year began, Bennet pressed the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to swiftly implement the BCSA provision to update Medicaid guidance on providing healthcare, including mental and behavioral health services, in school-based settings.
It remains to be seen how much of this funding might trickle down to small rural school districts, versus urban school districts.