Center for American Progress

RELEASE: How Policymakers Can Advance Equity in Schools Through Strategic Mental Health Spending

RELEASE: How Policymakers Can Advance Equity in Schools Through Strategic Mental Health Spending

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report laying out how to advance equity in schools through strategic spending on mental health. The report comes as state and local education agencies weigh the best ways to use more than $190 billion in pandemic relief funds intended for elementary and secondary education, including supporting students’ mental health. It also follows an alarming recent study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that 1 in 5 American teens have contemplated suicide and more than 4 in 10 report feeling persistently sad or hopeless.

The report recommends that state and local education agencies:

  • Hire diverse, culturally competent mental health professionals and staff to boost capacity.
  • Provide training to staff to avoid discrimination in mental health screenings.
  • Make spending sustainable through community input and investment in long-term partnerships and training programs.

It also looks at several promising ways states are taking steps toward achieving these goals as well as what must be done to ensure that these investments equitably serve students over the long term.

“Schools are on the front lines of helping students struggling with mental health disorders, but too often those facing the greatest challenges struggle to access support or face discrimination in our inadequate and inequitable mental health care system,” said Akilah Alleyne, associate director of K-12 Education Policy at CAP. “This report lays out strategies to ensure investments in mental health care support the needs of Black, Indigenous, and other students of color and LGBTQ students, groups whose very existence is being politicized and persecuted by elected extremists.”

Read the report: “Prioritizing Racial Equity in Student Mental Health Spending” by Abby Quirk.

Related resource:

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Colin Seeberger at cseeberger@americanprogress.org or 202-741-6292.