2023-2024 Priority Legislation
Strengthening Behavioral Health Supports in Schools
Children spend a significant portion of their lives in school. As a result, school personnel are often the first to identify a behavioral health need and schools are increasingly the best location to provide behavioral health services. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the children’s mental health crisis and more students than ever are in need of support. Not providing students with the resources they need may have harmful consequences and negatively impact children and families already marginalized by disability, gender, race, ethnicity, and/or sexual orientation. Studies show Comprehensive School-Based Behavioral Health Systems promote safety, academic success, and improved attendance rates, while helping to reduce special education referrals, school disciplinary actions, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and the prevalence and severity of mental illness. The Children’s Mental Health Campaign promotes strategies to strengthen behavioral health supports in schools and remove barriers that prevent children with behavioral health challenges from reaching their full potential.
An Act relative to mental health education | H.497 & S.240 Rep. Higgins & Sen. Collins
Consistent with current efforts to integrate physical and mental health care in schools, this bill will update the physical education mandate to make mental health education a learning requirement in all Massachusetts public and private schools, in grade K-12. While the bill will not mandate a specific curriculum or curriculum content, it takes a holistic approach on mental health and provides opportunities for students to “recognize multiple dimensions of health by including mental health, the relationship of physical and mental health, so as to enhance student understanding, attitudes, and behaviors that promote health, well-being, and human dignity,”
Read bill HERE
An Act relative to MassHealth reimbursement to schools S.794 Sen. Moran
The MassHealth School-Based Medicaid Reimbursement Program allows for Local Education Agencies (LEAs), such as municipal (cities and towns) school districts, regional school districts, regional vocational/technical schools, or public charter schools, to seek reimbursement for Medicaid-covered services and associated administrative expenses. Many districts don’t participate in the School-Based Medicaid Reimbursement Program, often citing that the administrative burden is not worthwhile because the resources don’t go back to support the school, but rather are reimbursed to municipalities to be used at their discretion. This bill will ensure that school medicaid reimbursements are directed back to schools to support school health, including school based services and school health programing, which including enhanced capacity to provide comprehensive behavioral health support, case management, health education, social emotional learning and health support, outreach and enrollment, school health infrastructure development, and other related school health services.
Read bill HERE
An Act establishing a child and adolescent behavioral health implementation coordinating council H.1979 Rep. Decker
Accessing behavioral health care continues to be a challenge for all youth and families across the nation, and race, socioeconomic status, and geographic location exacerbate inequities in accessing appropriate and timely behavioral healthcare.
This bill addresses root causes of inequitable access to comprehensive school-based behavioral health (CSBBH) by establishing systems and protocols for creating and maintaining CSBBH resources and ensuring the behavioral health needs of all students are supported through the following initiatives:
- Comprehensive School-Based Behavioral Health Systems: The bill requires each school district to develop and implement a comprehensive school-based behavioral health system within a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) framework within three years.
- School-Based Behavioral Health Implementation Coordinating Council: The Department of Mental Health, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Behavioral Health for Integrated Resources For Children Project at Umass Boston will co-chair a council to develop a plan for the rapid statewide implementation of CSBBH to provide equitable access to behavioral health promotion, prevention, and intervention services and support in each school district.