Bustos votes to pass the Mental Health Issues Act

WASHINGTON- Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17)voted to pass the Mental Health Matters Act, a transformative proposal to address the ongoing mental health crisis in the United States and help students, families, and educators thrive. The bill would support the behavioral health of children and school staff, strengthen school-based care, and improve mental health and addictions care coverage for workers and families.

“Our nation is facing a mental health crisis, and too many young people are not getting the support they need,” said MP Bustos. “As we strive to reduce the stigma that prevents people from seeking help, it is essential that resources are readily available. Today I voted to pass legislation to improve mental health services in our schools and ensure that every American has access to mental health care.

The Mental Health Matters Act Increase access to mental health services and improve the well-being of Americans by:

  • Direct the Department of Education to provide grants to establish a network of school mental health service providers and to increase the number of mental health professionals serving in elementary and secondary schools in areas where needs are high;
  • Request the Department of Education to provide grants to state educational agencies to recruit and retain school mental health service providers in public elementary and secondary schools in need;
  • Require higher education institutions to allow incoming students with existing documentation of a disability to access disability accommodations and require institutions to adopt more transparent policies regarding the accommodation process;
  • Create a grant program to increase student access to evidence-based trauma and mental health support services by developing innovative initiatives to connect schools and local education agencies to local support and health systems trauma-informed mindset;
  • Require the Department of Health and Human Services to identify evidence-based interventions for Head Start programs and support Head Start agencies to implement these interventions to improve the health of children and staff;
  • Give the Department of Labor enhanced powers to ensure that employer-sponsored private group health insurance plans comply with the requirements of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and related laws; and
  • Prohibit forced arbitration agreements in health care to strengthen the ability of Americans with employer-sponsored private health and retirement plans to hold employers accountable when employees are improperly denied benefits.

The Mental Health Issues Act builds on Bustos’ work to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans to seek justice. Congresswoman Bustos recently passed a law prohibiting forced arbitration in cases of sexual assault and harassment. Bustos is also a co-sponsor of just lawthat would prohibit the application of mandatory pre-litigation arbitration provisions in contracts involving consumer, employment, competition law and civil rights disputes.

The full text of the legislation is available here. A backgrounder on the bill can be found here.

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