Governor Shapiro’s Plan to Prioritize Mental Health Support for PA Students

Governor Josh ShapiroSubmitted Image

PENNSYLVANIA — Governor Josh Shapiro visited Hempfield Area High School in Westmoreland County yesterday, where he highlighted his Administration’s commitment to prioritizing mental health support for Pennsylvania students. Addressing the mental health crisis quickly became a key priority amidst the other pressing issues faced by Pennsylvanians, and in March, Governor Shapiro proposed a commonsensical budget suggestion aimed at providing solutions to these issues.

Josh Shapiro, who proposed the plan, emphasized the importance of tackling the stigma surrounding mental health care and investing in more comprehensive support infrastructure. He shared the importance of empathizing with the younger generation’s willingness to speak openly about their mental state. His budget proposal advances an allotment of half a billion dollars in mental health resources within the next five years to train new mental health professionals and bolster access to mental health resources in schools across Pennsylvania. It’s time to listen to the voice of young people and provide the help they require.

During yesterday’s visit, the Governor met with Hempfield students, counselors, teachers, and administrators to hear firsthand about the mental health resources they need in their classrooms.

“Our staff, students, administration, and school board directors would like to thank all of you for visiting us today, especially Governor Shapiro, to speak with our students regarding a very serious topic that is important to every school in the Commonwealth, and that topic would be mental health,” said Hempfield Area High School Principal Dr. David Palmer. “We have seen an increased need for mental health services over the past several years, and we are always looking for ways to assist our students in this area. We have a passionate student body who are aware of this growing concern and want to do everything they can to help.”

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“I say with urgency that the mental health crisis in American teens needs to be addressed immediately,” said Hempfield Area High School Student Nick Miller. “I am grateful for Governor Shapiro and his Administration because they are aware of this crisis and want to continue educating themselves and others and reach out to teenagers to create solutions.”

In Pennsylvania, over 40% of students reported symptoms of depression in 2021. In addition to his budget’s proposed investments to address this crisis, Governor Shapiro has directed Insurance Commissioner Mike Humphries to make mental health parity a reality in Pennsylvania by continuing to hold insurers accountable so that mental health benefits are covered fairly.

Governor Shapiro knows that the mental health crisis cannot continue to be an afterthought in Pennsylvania. As Attorney General, he started Safe2Say Something – an anonymous tip reporting system for students that has seen over 100,000 tips – and his budget proposal will help ensure every Pennsylvanian student can receive the support they need.

To increase access and resources for every Pennsylvania student, Governor Shapiro’s budget includes:

  • $500 million over the next five years so that schools can fund mental health counselors and services on site, prioritizing students’ mental health in addition to their physical health.
  • $60 million annually to restore mental health funding to Pennsylvania counties, who provide critical community-based mental health services for residents.

Learn more about Governor Shapiro’s budget and plans to support Pennsylvanians’ mental health here.

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