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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: February 12, 2024 11:11 AM
From: Representative Michael H. Schlossberg
To: All House members
Subject: School Behavioral Health Screening Pilot Program
One of the greatest challenges this country, and this Commonwealth, faces are the rising rates of mental illness and suicide - challenges that are rising the most among our youngest. The statistics are stark:
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young adults ages 15-19 and in 2022 alone, 49,000 Americans lost their life to suicide – the most ever recorded in our history. 
  • An estimated 98,000 Pennsylvanians aged 12-17 have depression – and more than half did not receive therapy or mental health care.
  • An estimated 447,000 adults in Pennsylvania currently struggle with a serious mental illness, half of which begin by age 14.
  • 2,014 Pennsylvanians died by suicide in 2021, an all-time high.
  • 70% of youths in the juvenile justice system have a mental health condition.
Our schools need the tools to help to identify children and teenagers who are struggling, and help those kids get the help they deserve - before it is too late. That’s why I will be introducing legislation establishing a pilot program to implement annual mental health screenings for students in grades six through twelve.
Considering the success seen in similar programs across the country, this bill will require the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assess the needs of each school district and their progress in establishing the community health infrastructure necessary to screen their students.
Finally, this legislation will direct grant funding to help districts bring on additional staff, expand their current programs, and work more closely with other community resources to accommodate the expected increase in students identified with mental health diagnoses.
If we are serious about saving lives and improving mental health, then we must be proactive. These screeners will help us to better understand the needs of our students even as we address access to treatment and care when mental health conditions first manifest. Too many children suffer in silence and only seek treatment too late. We must do better, and we must start now.
Please consider joining me in sponsoring this important legislation.

Introduced as HB2311