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Senator Hassan Underscores Need for More Mental Health Support for NH Students During Committee Hearing

Senator Hassan Reads Letter from Candia Student Who Says Mental Health is Not Taken Seriously Enough in Schools and Workplaces

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today underscored the urgent need to get more mental health support to students across New Hampshire during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing. 


To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.


Senator Hassan discussed how she has heard from young patients in New Hampshire who have been forced to wait in emergency rooms for up to a month for an inpatient psychiatric bed to open up. 


“They have written to me recounting their experiences waiting in hospitals,” Senator Hassan said. “They describe truly horrific experiences such as being kept in isolation and going weeks without showers, let alone mental health care. The situation is so severe that New Hampshire used federal funds to purchase a local hospital to take these children out of the emergency room.”


Dr. Mitch Prinstein, Chief Science Officer at the American Psychological Association, discussed the importance of training more outpatient providers to help ensure that young people don’t get to the point where they need in-patient psychiatric care in the first place.  


“One out of every five young women will experience a major depressive episode before the age of 25...think what we would do if that was a physical health disorder,” said Dr. Prinstein. “We would be training people what to expect, we'd be training parents and teachers to spot the warning signs, we would be making sure that everyone had access to treatment the minute that they started showing any symptoms."


The Senate recently passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Hassan and Joni Ernst (R-IA) to encourage the implementation of suicide prevention trainings in schools and communities across the country to help address the rising rate of youth suicide.


Senator Hassan also shared a letter she received from a student from Candia, New Hampshire who wrote to the Senator about the lack of attention on mental health care in schools and in the workplace. 


The student wrote: “Schools and workplaces are not taking mental health seriously. We do not learn about mental health in school nor the workplace. I’ve seen firsthand the way that these disorders can affect people . . . it’s not seriously talked about, nor taken seriously enough.”


Dr. Michelle Durham, Vice Chair of Education at the Department of Psychiatry & Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center, discussed the importance of breaking down the stigma around mental health.


"We have a lot of initiatives even within Boston Medical Center of reaching out and partnering with our local churches,” said Dr. Durham. “We have people in our department that are doing some of that work to start breaking down barriers and stigma so people can come in for treatment.”