Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $100 Million in Continued Support for Mental Health and Student Wellness Through Bipartisan Safer Communities Act
Washington, D.C. – In a significant step towards addressing the mental health crisis in schools, the Biden-Harris Administration has announced over $95 million in awards across 35 states to enhance access to school-based mental health services and strengthen the pipeline of mental health professionals in high-needs school districts. These awards, funded by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), underscore the Administration’s commitment to tackle the mental health challenges faced by students and align with President Biden’s National Mental Health Strategy.
The Department of Education has allocated $286 million to 264 grantees in 48 states and territories through two grants: the School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) grant program and the Mental Health Service Professional (MHSP) grant program. These grants, part of President Biden’s Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, will facilitate the training, recruitment, and diversification of mental health professionals, ultimately preparing more than 14,000 new experts to support the mental well-being of students across the nation. A state-by-state breakdown of the projected impact of these funds is provided in the announcement.
Today’s announcement includes an additional 93 MHSP awards, following the previous allocation of $46 million to 67 grantees in December. This brings the total number of MHSP grantees funded by the Department to 160, who will train and deploy a diverse range of certified mental health providers to schools with the greatest need. Notably, 45 percent of the MHSP grantees proposed partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges or Universities, or Tribal Colleges or Universities, aiming to foster inclusivity in mental health support. Furthermore, the Department will provide up to $2.6 million in funding for a new Mental Health Personnel Technical Assistance Center, which will aid SBMH and MHSP grantees in achieving their grant goals and offer broader support to the field by disseminating best practices in recruiting, training, placing, and retaining school-based mental health service providers.
The investments made under the BSCA are transformative, as they enable the establishment of a robust mental health infrastructure within schools and communities nationwide. This funding aligns with the President’s goal, outlined in his Mental Health Strategy, to double the number of school counselors, social workers, and other school-based mental health professionals. The Department plans to invest the remaining $1 billion provided by the BSCA over the next five years to continue expanding mental health support in schools through the MHSP and SBMH programs.
These initiatives are a testament to the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to addressing the mental health crisis and equipping schools with resources to meet the needs of students. Last fall, the Department launched the Stronger Connections Grant program, which allocated nearly $1 billion to 56 states and territories through the BSCA. This program aimed to assist schools in high-need districts in providing safe and supportive learning environments crucial to students’ success.
Furthermore, the Department, in collaboration with the U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, sent a letter to governors across the country at the beginning of the school year, highlighting federal resources available to states and schools for investing in mental health services. Additionally, the Department allocated $122 billion in American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to aid school reopening and recovery. Experts estimate that over $2 billion of these funds have been directed towards hiring more school psychologists, counselors, and other mental health professionals in K-12 schools. As a result, compared to the pre-pandemic period, there has been a 48 percent increase in the number of school social workers, a 10 percent increase in school counselors,