Bennet, Bipartisan Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Improve Mental Health at Colleges

Bill Helps Colleges Provide Comprehensive Mental and Behavioral Health Support to Students

Washington, D.C. — Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet joined U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), and a group of bipartisan colleagues in introducing legislation to help improve college students’ mental and behavioral health.  The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act would help higher education institutions develop and implement comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention plans.

“Colorado’s youth continue to face a mental and behavioral health crisis, and it’s imperative that we meet them where they are with resources and support. Our bill will help colleges connect students with mental health and suicide prevention services as they work to further their education,” said Bennet.

“This bipartisan measure will provide students with the mental health support they need to succeed,” said 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.” 

“Mental health issues have skyrocketed on college campuses, where students struggle with depression and anxiety at an alarming rate. Sadly many students — particularly those at smaller universities with fewer resources — lack the help they need. This bill will help address those gaps and enable students to focus on what matters: their friends, their activities, and most importantly, their education,” said Scott.

“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

The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act would require the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 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 and behavioral health crisis. These plans would align with strategies recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Suicide Prevention Resource Center, specifically its nine-part Comprehensive Approach to Suicide Prevention.

The legislation is cosponsored by Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) 

The bill text is available HERE. 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.