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Go In-Depth on Our Legislative Priorities: School-Based Mental Health

We support legislation to expand school-based access to mental health services.

April 13, 2023

Childhood mental health is in crisis in Texas and across the nation. During the Texas Legislature’s 2023 session, lawmakers are considering several bills that would expand access to mental health services for children by making it easier and more cost-effective for schools to provide this type of healthcare on site.

Background on Mental Health Services in Schools

Over the past two decades, the rate of Texas children who have felt hopeless, struggled with anxiety or depression, or experienced suicidal ideation has been rising. In Texas, the high school suicide rate is 66% higher than the national average. Mental health conditions often manifest by age 14, and the stress of the pandemic exacerbated mental health symptoms for many students. In 2021, nearly 65% of Texans ages 12-17 who experienced depression did not receive any care.

Lack of access to mental healthcare can create barriers to learning for students experiencing trauma, stress or other difficult life events. Trauma and stress are also associated with difficulty concentrating, poor memory, lower motivation and strained decision-making.

Alternatively, students who are emotionally and mentally well are more engaged in learning. The potential increase in mental health needs for school-aged children and decreased school performance in those who do not have access to treatment makes schools an ideal entry point for mental health services.

What’s Happening This Legislative Session

Several bills are up for consideration that would expand mental health services in Texas schools:

  • House Bill 1571 (Lozano) and House Bill 1795 (Howard) would allow school districts to claim federal Medicaid funding for services provided to Medicaid-enrolled students, including mental health services.
  • Senate Bill 948 (West) and House Bill 2451 (Allision) would establish and fund a school mental health allotment that would provide comprehensive school mental health strategies with flexibility for school districts to implement mental health strategies based on their needs.

Learn more about school mental health services.

What’s New

We’ll be watching this legislation throughout the session. Check back here for important updates as these bills advance through the legislative process.


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