US lawmakers propose legislation to tackle mental health problems

(WFSB) — Mental health experts have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a lot of pressure on American youth.

More than 40 percent of high school students reported feeling sad and hopeless.

As a result, Congress said it is trying to help by proposing a new bipartisan mental health law.

In Connecticut, the state already saw more money to tackle the problem.

Connecticut lawmakers recently set aside $25 million for youth care, including increased funding for mental health support.

However, the mental health problem isn’t just a Connecticut problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that it is an epidemic across the country.

The latest data from the CDC found that more than a third of high school students reported experiencing poor mental health during the pandemic, and 44 percent said they felt persistently sad or hopeless.

According to the CDC, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression and behavioral problems are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children. One in five American children aged 12 to 17 have experienced a major depressive episode.

Congress seeks help. Sens. Jacky Rosen of Nevada and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have introduced a bipartisan bill to provide public schools with federal funding to help students from kindergarten through 12th grade cope with mental health issues.

Currently, that money only goes to colleges and universities. However, the senators believe that society needs a renewed focus to help younger children deal with all-too-common problems.

“It’s been too many years since we’ve seen a really strong focus on mental health and behavioral health issues,” Murkowski said. “And in my opinion you can’t separate the physical from the mental.”

“Well, you know, unfortunately people haven’t talked about mental health,” Rosen said. “There is still a stigma around it. So people suffer in silence, or they feel ashamed or ashamed.”

Many parents across the country also said they were concerned.

Child psychologist Jamie Howard said that when parents talk about their mental health, parents should ask open-ended questions and just keep talking to them.

“Ask with empathy and seriousness ‘so tell me what’s going on. I’ve noticed you don’t spend time with your friends” or “I notice your grades are declining,” and don’t scold them right away, just say, “What’s going on?” Howard said.

Congress said it is trying to help by proposing a new bipartisan mental health law.

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