Sens. Stabenow, Peters introduce HEAL?Act for mental health help

Sens. Stabenow, Peters introduce HEAL?Act for mental health help


MARQUETTE — Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow recently announced the introduction of the Help Education After Loss Act.

The legislation would provide an expansion of federal resources which would provide mental health assistance for students affected by school shootings.

The HEAL Act would provide federal support for schools across the country, allowing them to receive federal money to be used by the schools to hire mental health professionals like counselors, psychiatrists and social workers to support students and staff at schools where tragic events occur.

“No student should have to live through the fear, pain and grief caused by gun violence in schools — let alone struggle with the mental health effects in the aftermath of school shootings,” said Peters in a press release.

“Sadly, there continue to be school shootings and it’s clear that more can be done to provide federal resources to these schools. We must ensure that students, school staff, and families in Michigan and communities across the country affected by tragedy have the support they need when they are experiencing this unimaginable trauma,

“This common sense bill would help expand needed mental health resources at schools,”?Peters added.

The legislation would also call for the United States Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study on how violent events like school shootings affect the mental health of students and to gain understanding of possible psychiatric disorders that stem from trauma.

The bill would also require the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services to develop criteria for the return to learning after crisis events.

The subject of school shootings became prevalent in the state of Michigan in November, when 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley killed four students and injured seven others in a mass shooting at Oxford High School near Detroit.

“The mental needs of adults and children who have experienced trauma from violence are unique and urgent. The community of Oxford experienced this kind of trauma when the High School community was shattered by unspeakable violence,” said Sen. Stabenow in the press release.“This bill will ensure that students in Oxford and others schools across our country receive the critical services they need.”

Research suggests that children who are confronted with traumatic, violent events are at a high risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the National Center for PTSD. It is estimated that 28% of those who witness mass shootings will develop PTSD and another third experience acute stress disorder. Studies show that young people are 10-times more likely to seek help for mental health issues when they have access.

“When school communities experience a violent tragedy, it is absolutely critical for all impacted to have access to comprehensive mental health care and support,” said National Association of School Psychologists President Dr. Laurie Klose.

“School psychologists play a critical role in delivering short- and long-term interventions and responding to demonstrated psychological needs of those impacted by a crisis. The HEAL Act helps ensure no students go without the mental health care they need in the wake of a tragedy.”

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