REP. SUSAN WILD INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN BILL TO IMPROVE STUDENT MENTAL HEALTH
September 26, 2023 | WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Susan Wild introduced the bipartisan Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act alongside Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01). The bill would amend the Higher Education Act to promote positive mental health and suicide prevention on college campuses.
“As the mental health crisis and suicide epidemic on college campuses continues to grow, we must take action to bring America’s students the resources and support they deserve,” said Congresswoman Susan Wild. “I am proud to be introducing the bipartisan Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act, to help colleges and universities tackle this crisis and ensure no student suffers alone.”
“It is long-past time for Congress to ensure that college students have the mental health resources available to get the help they need,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act will mandate federal agencies to better cooperate and ensure that these important resources are more readily available and allow institutions to take a comprehensive approach to mental health and suicide prevention.”
The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act would require the Department of Education work alongside the Department of Health and Human Services to encourage colleges and universities to develop proactive plans for suicide prevention and positive mental health. These comprehensive plans would comply with strategies recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations (SAMHSA)’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center, specifically its nine-part Comprehensive Approach to Suicide Prevention. This bill fills the gap of what has previously been an undefined role for the Department of Education in addressing mental health and suicide prevention on college campuses.
According to the CDC, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for teens and young adults, ages 10-34. In a 2021–2022 survey of students across 133 college campuses, 44% of students reported symptoms of depression; 25.5% of adults ages 18-24 reported having seriously considered suicide in the past month, a higher percentage than any other adult age group.
“We wholeheartedly support Rep. Wild’s reintroduction of this bipartisan legislation, which can help improve the lives of many young people struggling with their mental health. It’s been more than two years since this bill was first announced–and nearly a quarter century since JED was founded—-but our mission remains the same: protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults,” said Dr. Zainab Okolo, Senior Vice President of Policy, Advocacy, and Government Relations at The Jed Foundation. “Together, we can advance systems change, not only on Capitol Hill, but in communities across America. Let’s reshape the discourse surrounding student mental health, and mobilize communities toward meaningful action.”
“The American Association of Suicidology believes the best way to promote mental health and prevent suicide is through continuous support and resources,” said Leeann Sherman, President and CEO of the American Association of Suicidology. “We thank Rep. Wild for her leadership on the Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act, which will help give colleges and universities the tools they need to support the mental health of their students on campus and in the classroom.”
“Suicide remains a leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24, and college students across the country urgently need greater access to mental health resources and supports,” said Laurel Stine, J.D., M.A., Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “AFSP is proud to support the Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act, which will provide resources for colleges and universities to create and implement comprehensive suicide prevention plans and promote a positive campus culture around mental health, helping to lower suicide rates among this higher risk population.”
Last Congress, this bill passed the House by an overwhelming margin of 405-16.
This bill is endorsed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Jed Foundation, the American Association of Suicidology, and the American Psychological Association.
Rep. David Trone (D-MD-06) is also an original co-sponsor of the bill.
Click here to view a one-pager on the bill.
Click here to view the full text of the bill.
Chris Cosentino, American Association of Suicidology, firstname.lastname@example.org