Improving Mental Health Care in Montana Schools is Aim of Bipartisan Tester Bill

Senator’s Creating Access and Resources in Education (CARE) for Student Mental Health Act would help rural schools receive mental health grants

As part of his continued effort to improve mental health resources in Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced the bipartisan Creating Access and Resources in Education (CARE) for Student Mental Health Act, a bill to assist schools as they apply for federal mental health grants.

After hearing firsthand from school leaders in Montana about obstacles they face to receiving available grants, Tester introduced this bipartisan bill to ensure available federal mental health resources are more accessible to rural schools.

“Students across Montana, particularly in rural areas, often turn to schools as their only option for mental health care— and we’ve got to ensure we have the capabilities and staff to meet the needs of their communities,” said Tester. “This bipartisan legislation makes big strides to invest in mental health professionals in underserved schools. I’ll keep working to fight the shortage of mental health professionals in rural areas and ensure our students have the support they need and deserve.”

The CARE for Student Mental Health Act would help bridge the gap between schools in need and available mental health resources by:

  • Requiring the U.S. Department of Education to improve notification and technical assistance for potential grantees to enable more school districts with limited administrative capacity to apply and compete for these federal grants;
  • Authorizing and streamlining the Strengthening the Pipeline of School-Based Mental Health Services Providers Program, which supports partnerships between colleges, universities, and school districts to increase the number of properly trained school-based mental health service professionals;
  • Clarifying the distinction, purpose, and allowable activities of each grant to help eligible entities quickly determine which grant best meets their needs;
  • And authorizing the School-Based Mental Health Services Program that assists high-need school districts to recruit, hire, and retain school-based mental health personnel for students to remain healthy, engaged, and safe at school.

As a third generation Montana farmer, Senator Tester has long been an advocate for increased mental health resources for rural America. He introduced the Farmers First Act of 2023 to reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) and connect farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers with stress assistance programs and resources. He also passed his Seeding Rural Resilience Act in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to fight high rates of suicide in rural America.

Anyone experiencing a mental health crisis can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 988.


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