WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden today signed into law bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) to strengthen mental health resources for young people and help prevent youth suicide. The bipartisan STANDUP Act comes as students across New Hampshire have reached out to Senator Hassan about the urgent need to address mental health challenges and expand access to resources for young people.
“Young people across New Hampshire are speaking out about the need for more mental health resources, and in the process, they are helping to break down the stigma that too often surrounds mental health,” Senator Hassan said. “The STANDUP Act is a testament to all the young people in our state who have lifted up this important issue all the way to the White House. This new law will help schools in New Hampshire meet the mental health needs of their students and save lives, and it’s important that it has been signed into law.”
“The tragic and alarming rise in youth suicide in our country is a crisis that deserves immediate action. We can’t fail our kids,” said Senator Ernst. “After working with Democrats and Republicans, today I’m pleased our bipartisan legislation to put evidence-based suicide prevention and awareness training policies into place and to address this crisis head-on is finally law.”
“The only way we can effectively prevent youth suicide is by recognizing the warning signs and taking action to get help. Equipping students to look out for one another -- and themselves -- is essential. Youth are more aware of what their peers are going through and often see behavior changes before the adults do. They just need to know when and how to speak up,” said Mark Barden, co-founder and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. “We thank Senators Hassan and Ernst and Representatives Peters and Bilirakis for their crucial bipartisan leadership in helping save young lives by ensuring cost is not a barrier to prevention education.”
The CDC has found that suicide has been one of the leading causes of death for those aged 10-24. The Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention (STANDUP) Act would take important steps to address this by encouraging states, public schools, and Tribes to implement evidence-based policies and trainings to prevent suicides in order to receive certain types of grants, including ones to promote youth mental health awareness among schools and communities and improve connections to services for school-age youth. It also requires that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration publish best practices for student suicide awareness and prevention training, as well as provide technical assistance in implementing these policies.
Senator Hassan is focused on strengthening mental health access and has been lifting up the stories and efforts of young people across New Hampshire who are working to address mental health challenges among their peers. Senator Hassan recently recognized three students from Exeter High School as her “Granite Staters of the Month” for organizing a hockey game as part of an initiative to promote discussions around student mental health and show teenagers that they are not alone. During a recent Senate committee hearing, Senator Hassan read a letter written by a student from Candia who wrote to the Senator about the lack of attention on mental health care in schools and in the workplace. Senator Hassan also recently introduced a youth mental health expert from Portsmouth as a hearing witness on the youth mental health crisis, and previously visited Epping High School to discuss students’ social and emotional needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.