The Biden-Harris Administration today is announcing a $2.6 million award to support mental health services and professionals in schools, further delivering on a key priority of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA). The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System will establish a national Mental Health Evaluation, Training, Research, and Innovation Center for Schools (METRICS) to increase support and offer new resources for schools nationwide on training mental health professionals and providing school-based mental health services. This award is made possible by the historic Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Biden signed into law on June 25, 2022. Over the next five years, BSCA will invest over $1 billion in school-based mental health programs, making substantial progress towards the President's goal, as part of his Mental Health Strategy, to double the number of school counselors, social workers, and other mental health professionals available to support students' mental health needs.
Research shows the shortage among mental health professionals is a primary reason students lack access to the mental health services they need. This center will help close this gap by providing schools with the tools they need to strengthen the pipeline of high-quality mental health professionals and increasing access to critical mental health services in high-need schools. These funds have the potential to meaningfully change lives by building a mental health infrastructure in schools and communities across the country.
"The youth mental health crisis continues to be among the top concerns raised to me by the students, parents, families, educators, and school leaders I've visited in 43 states across America," said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. "Thanks to President Biden's leadership in securing the resources of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, we are making unprecedented investments in mental health that will help states, districts, and schools Raise the Bar for students' overall well-being and academic recovery. This new nationwide technical assistance center, run by the University of Wisconsin system, is an exciting step forward that will help equip education leaders with the most effective strategies for integrating mental health services in their schools."
The new METRICS Center will support grantees of the U.S. Department of Education's (Department) two programs for increasing the number of mental health providers in schools—School-Based Mental Health (SBMH) and Mental Health Services Professionals (MHSP). METRICS will also distribute resources to states, districts, and schools nationwide to help them implement high-quality projects to address the social, emotional, and mental health needs of PK-12 students and increase the number of school-based mental health services providers.
The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, in partnership with the University of South Florida, School Mental Health Collaborative; the University of Iowa, Scanlan Center for School Mental Health; and University of California, Santa Barbara's International Center for School-Based Youth Development, which is an Hispanic Serving Institution, will support the 264 new MHSP and SBMH grantees and disseminate resources and information to state educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), institutions of higher education (IHEs), and other stakeholders through METRICS. This new resource is critical to increasing the numbers of providers and skills of the existing workforce, in a time when the health and well-being of our nation's children and youth has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated pre-existing inequities.
The Department has made increasing access to mental health care a key focus area of the Raise the Bar: Lead the World initiative because it is critical that every student has access to the support they need. In addition, research shows that students are more likely to seek and sustain mental health care when those services are available at school. Expanding access and integrating mental health services into our nation's schools is also a key component of President Biden's Mental Health Strategy. Since day one, the Biden-Harris Administration has committed to taking a whole of government approach to enhancing mental health services for young people.
A full list of previously announced mental health grantees under BSCA can be found here.