Congresswoman Scanlon Votes to Pass Legislation Confronting Pennsylvania’s Ongoing Mental Health Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) this week voted to pass the Mental Health Matters Act, a comprehensive proposal to confront Pennsylvania’s ongoing mental health crisis and help students, families, and educators thrive. The proposal takes wide-ranging steps to support the behavioral health of children and school staff, strengthen school-based behavioral health care, and improve coverage of mental health and substance use disorder care for workers and families.


“Our schools play an outsized role in providing mental health services, particularly when nearly 80 percent of youth in need of mental health services do not have access in their communities,” said Rep. Scanlon. “One of the best ways to increase mental health care options for young people is to deliver the resources our schools need to strengthen programs supporting students and school staff. I’m proud to vote for this legislation to meet the increasingly complex behavioral health needs of our students, as well as ensure access to mental health and substance use disorder benefits for workers and families.”


The Mental Health Matters Act includes a series of critical solutions to help students, educators, and families:

  • Directs the Department of Education to award grants to build a pipeline of school-based mental health services providers and increase the number of mental health professionals serving in elementary and secondary schools in high-need areas;
  • Directs the Department of Education to award grants to state educational agencies to recruit and retain school-based mental-health-services providers at high-need public elementary and secondary schools;
  • Requires institutions of higher education to allow incoming students with existing documentation of a disability to access disability accommodations and requires institutions to adopt more transparent policies around the accommodations process;
  • Creates a grant program to increase students’ access to evidence-based trauma support and mental health services by developing innovative initiatives to link schools and local educational agencies with local trauma-informed support and mental health systems;
  • Requires the Department of Health and Human Services to identify evidence-based interventions for Head Start programs and help Head Start agencies implement these interventions to improve the health of children and staff;
  • Provides the Department of Labor with strengthened authority to ensure that private, employer-sponsored group health plans comply with the requirements of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and related laws; and
  • Strengthens the ability of Americans with private, employer-sponsored health and retirement plans to hold plan sponsors accountable when they are improperly denied benefits by banning forced arbitration agreements and ensuring a fair standard of review by the courts.


Find a fact sheet for the Mental Health Matters Act  here.



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