Linda Sánchez and Morgan Griffith Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Access to Mental Health Services in Schools

May 8, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38) and Congressman H. Morgan Griffith (VA-09) today introduced the bipartisan Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act to expand access to mental health services in the school system. The same bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Tina Smith (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

The Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act would bring mental health professionals who currently work in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) into the homes, schools, and community-based organizations that desperately need their services. Right now, NHSC professionals can only provide care at certain approved clinics and are limited in the care they can provide off site.

This bipartisan and bicameral legislative effort would allow communities in California, Virginia, and across the country to expand access to mental health treatment for children. This legislation would particularly help young people in underserved areas who often lack adequate access to these vital services.

“There are underserved communities in my district and across the country that desperately need the mental health services National Health Service Corps members can provide,” said Rep. Linda Sánchez. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Griffith to ensure that more Californians, especially young people, have access to vital mental health and substance use disorder services, particularly in light of the nation’s opioid epidemic. By making our NHSC members more available to schools and other community-based settings, we can help young people get the care they need, when and where they need it. This is a common sense, bipartisan bill that needs to be passed into law.”

“I am pleased to join my colleague Congresswoman Sanchez in introducing this bipartisan bill,” said Congressman Morgan Griffith. “People in rural areas, such as much of Virginia’s Ninth District, often have difficulty obtaining the mental health care they need. If underserved communities wish to invite National Health Service Corps professionals to help, they should be able to do so. By making this simple change, our bill would give these schools, families, and communities more options for mental health services, and more people, especially children, could have access to the care they need.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, mental health conditions occur in young people about as often as they do in adults—about 1 in 5 have a mental health condition—but young people frequently have a hard time accessing mental health care. The Improving Access to Mental Health Services Act, which you can read more about here, would give existing NHSC providers further flexibility in where they are able to practice and deliver care, and those living in underserved areas would have better access to mental health services.