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Reps. Stewart and Newman Introduce Bipartisan Mental Health Bill

September 10, 2021

Today, Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-IL) introduced the bipartisan Student Mental Health Helpline Act of 2021. This bill creates a grant program to assist state efforts in the maintenance or establishment of a student mental health and safety helpline. The legislation would also support the coordination of state student mental health helplines with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Following the bill’s introduction, Rep. Stewart, Rep. Newman, and a number of endorsing organizations released the following statements:

“There is no excuse for Americans with mental health challenges not getting the help they need,” said Rep. Stewart. “Suicide is preventable with early intervention, but too often we are missing the opportunity to reach those in distress. This bipartisan legislation will take a step in the direction of righting that wrong. Suicide is an issue that hits home for everyone – it is a top ten cause of death nationwide, as well as in my home state. I encourage all of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to join Rep. Newman and I in extending a much-needed hand to those in need,” concluded Stewart.

"It is past time that we recognize that a student’s access to high-quality mental health resources and services is just as imperative to their future as their own education is. Over the past year, we have seen first-hand how the devastating effects of this pandemic have exacerbated the mental health crises that far too many students face every single day in Illinois' 3rd District and across the entire nation," said Rep. Newman. "By passing the Bipartisan Student Mental Health Helpline Act of 2021, we can truly grow and support state-run mental health hotlines that will substantially increase access to the crucial resources that our youngest generation needs and deserves. Each of us in Congress has a moral obligation to make this a reality for our children,” concluded Newman.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP): “AFSP commends Congresswoman Newman and Congressman Stewart for introducing bipartisan legislation to promote student mental health and safety helplines. The Student Mental Health Helpline Act of 2021 will facilitate student’s access to confidential 24/7 helplines that can help normalize help-seeking behavior and increase the likelihood that a student will call to help themselves or a peer through a mental health or suicidal crisis, said Laurel Stine, J.D., M.A., Senior Vice President for Public Policy, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.”

Sam Brinton, VP of Advocacy & Government Affairs, The Trevor Project: “It is crucial that we keep building out our national mental health infrastructure to meet the growing need and provide every student with access to culturally competent services. This legislation will help provide students with more avenues to access mental health support in moments of crisis and facilitate better coordination among local schools and public health resources. Trevor Project works every day to reach the more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth who seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S., and we are thankful to Rep. Newman for taking a comprehensive, intersectional approach to supporting youth mental health.”

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