Congressman Tim Ryan Supports Legislation to Expand Mental Health Resources for Students and Workers

Press Release

By: Tim Ryan
By: Tim Ryan
Date: Sept. 29, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Congressman Tim Ryan voted for the Mental Health Matters Act, comprehensive legislation to confront America's ongoing mental health crisis and help students and workers thrive. The bill takes wide-ranging steps to support the behavioral health of children and school staff, strengthen school-based behavioral health care, and improve coverage of mental health and substance use disorders.

"We have a mental health crisis happening here in the United States that has only been exacerbated by a global pandemic and a worsening opioid crisis that continues to devastate families across Ohio," said Congressman Ryan. "This legislation takes critical steps to provide Ohioans with the mental health support they need and deserve."

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, children have experienced an uptick in mental health challenges; educators are grappling with the task of getting their students back on track; college students with mental health challenges are facing barriers receiving the appropriate education to which they are legally entitled; and far too many workers are suffering from insufficient access to mental health and substance use disorder benefits under their health plans.

To address these challenges, the Mental Health Matters Act would take comprehensive steps to strengthen access to mental health services and improve Americans' wellbeing. Specifically, the legislation:

Directs the Department of Education to award grants to build a pipeline of school-based mental health services providers and increase the number of mental health professionals serving in elementary and secondary schools in high-need areas;
Directs the Department of Education to award grants to state educational agencies to recruit and retain school-based mental-health-services providers at high-need public elementary and secondary schools;
Requires institutions of higher education to allow incoming students with existing documentation of a disability to access disability accommodations and requires institutions to adopt more transparent policies around the accommodations process;
Creates a grant program to increase students' access to evidence-based trauma support and mental health services by developing innovative initiatives to link schools and local educational agencies with local trauma-informed support and mental health systems;
Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to identify evidence-based interventions for Head Start programs and help Head Start agencies implement these interventions to improve the health of children and staff;
Provides the Department of Labor with strengthened authority to ensure that private, employer-sponsored group health plans comply with the requirements of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and related laws; and
Strengthens the ability of Americans with private, employer-sponsored health and retirement plans to hold plan sponsors accountable when they are improperly denied benefits by banning forced arbitration agreements and ensuring a fair standard of review by the courts.