September 28, 2022

Cassidy, Blumenthal, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Improve Mental Health on College Campuses

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tim Scott (R-SC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act, legislation to help improve college students’ mental health and incentivize higher education institutions to develop and implement comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention plans.

“Let’s take what we learned from COVID and increase mental health services for students,” said Dr. Cassidy. 

“This bipartisan measure will provide students with the mental health support they need to succeed,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Our country is in the midst of a youth mental health crisis with serious cases of anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide growing among college students. Our bill aims to ensure colleges are prepared with the best evidence-based plans to promote positive mental health on campus and to support students when they need help the most.” 

The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act would amend the Higher Education Act, and require the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collaborate and encourage higher education institutions like universities and colleges to create proactive plans for preventing suicide and promote positive mental health among students to address the mental health crisis. These plans would align with strategies recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Suicide Prevention Resource Center, specifically its nine-part Comprehensive Approach to Suicide Prevention. 

In the House, the bill was led by U.S. Representatives Susan Wild (D-PA) and Fred Keller (R-PA), and passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in June. The legislation has been endorsed by a number of mental health, education, and youth advocacy organizations.

“In the past year, the youth mental health crisis has continued to worsen, with over 40% of college students reporting depression, and one in three reporting anxiety. The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act is important in ensuring that colleges and universities develop and implement evidence-based, comprehensive campus mental health and suicide prevention plans to support and protect these young adults’ emotional well-being,” said John MacPhee, CEO of The Jed Foundation. “We applaud Senators Blumenthal and Scott for their leadership on this bill. Now is the time to act and strengthen mental health for college students across the country.”