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U.S. Senator Padilla Introduces Bill Focusing on Improving School Mental Health Programs

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla
Screenshot showing CA U.S. Senator Alec Padilla speaking at the press conference.

On September 10th, California U.S. Senator Alex Padilla introduced legislation that aims to broaden access and improve equity within mental health programs in schools.  

The Comprehensive Mental Health in Schools Pilot Program Act of 2021 would establish a pilot $20 Million grant program. The bill would aim to develop, implement, and evaluate health service programs in elementary and secondary schools.

Senator Padilla spoke at a virtual press conference to introduce the bill and said, "The need for additional mental health resources, services, and support go since long before the pandemic, but especially because of the pandemic, we've seen how heighten the urgency now is."

The act would also implement a multi-tier intervention plan to help educators address academic and behavioral needs.

Padilla added that he's hopeful the legislation will build bipartisan support saying, "Knowing and have shared experiences with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, everybody has an appreciation for the need to elevate mental health services as a priority, not just from a constituent perspective, if you will or political perspective but from a personal and family perspective."

Jessica Cruz is the Executive Director of the California Division of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and spoke highly of the bill. She said, "With the focus on prevention and early intervention, we believe at NAMI California that this multi-tiered approach that focuses on students, teachers, equity, and workforce is the right pilot. And we know that it's going to produce meaningful and measurable outcomes."

Cruz also spoke positively on Senator Padilla's focus on mental health, saying, "And this bill just shows his tireless commitment to these efforts. He's rolled up his sleeves, and he's worked side-by-side with us. He is one of us."

The bill has yet to be heard by a Senate committee, but it will head to the Senate floor if it passes that hurdle.

Jonathan Linden is a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and had previously interned for the station in the Spring of 2019. Outside of KVCR, Jonathan also interned for KALW in San Francisco, KFI in Burbank, and Radio HCJB in Quito, Ecuador.