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Over 170 Advocates Urge Congress to Invest $1 Billion in Mental Health & Trauma-Informed Schools

MEDIA CONTACT: Laura Quigley,

WASHINGTON, DC – The Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) released today a coalition letter urging Congress to invest $1 billion in this year’s federal appropriations bill to increase trauma-informed resources and improve access to mental health professionals in America’s schools.

A recent survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more than a third (37.1%) of U.S. high school students experienced poor mental health most of the time during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than two out of five students (44.2%) had felt persistent sadness or hopelessness that caused them to stop doing some usual activities. About one in five (19.9%) seriously considered suicide, and about one in 10 (9%) students had attempted suicide.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been traumatic for many of our youth and has led to persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, suicidality, increase in suicide, and overall poor mental health,” said Jesse Kohler, Executive Director of CTIPP. “Even as students have returned to learning in person, this trauma limits many of their abilities to live healthy lives, form positive relationships, and find success and fulfillment in and outside of school. Our requested funding and appeal to include a trauma-informed approach will help students heal and build resilience.”

The letter was sent to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT; Senate Appropriations Committee Chair), Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL; Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member), Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT-03; House Appropriations Committee Chair), and Representative Kay Granger (R-TX-12; House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member), and it urges Congress to:

  • Encourage a trauma-informed approach, so schools can undertake a shift to recognize, understand, and address the learning needs and wellbeing of children impacted by trauma

  • Provide $1 billion for the Safe Schools National Activities Program to support the School-Based Mental Health Professionals Demonstration Grant and the School-Based Mental Health Services Program (consistent with the President’s budget request)

  • Divide that $1 billion between the programs to provide continuation grants to existing grantees and support new competitions so that even more schools can benefit from these programs

“The collective and intergenerational trauma our country has experienced is being reflected in the health of our youth,” said Jessie Graham, Trauma-Informed Coach and Consultant (based in Maine). “The best way to stop this cycle of Adverse Childhood Experiences is to support the healing of the adults in schools, the workplace, and homes so they can feel connected to themselves and the children and create healthy relationships that are essential for the change we want to see.”

“School-based mental health programs that are trauma-informed are needed nationwide now more than ever!” said Julie Beem, Executive Director at the Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc (Georgia). “In our 25 years of supporting children impacted by trauma, we have seen the importance of entire school systems embracing trauma-informed strategies and the increase of school-based mental health programs not only on the student’s academic achievements but also their overall health, well-being, and life-long success.”

“Research shows trauma-informed practices make a difference in student learning and teacher and staff performance”, said Debra Berke, Director of Psychology/Organizational Dynamics Programs at Wilmington University (Delaware). “Simple changes can make drastic differences in the lives of children and adults. In addition, more mental health services also provide the necessary support for students and staff who might need more intensive interventions. By harnessing the power of prevention (trauma-informed practices) and intervention (mental health services), we can create a better, healthier learning environment for children, youth, and adults.”

“CTIPP would also like to thank Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), Donald Panye, Jr. (D-NJ-10), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01) for their leadership in advancing this request,” said Kohler.

CTIPP reported that 173 advocates across 36 states and the District of Columbia signed the letter to Congress – view and download the letter here.

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The Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice (CTIPP) is the leading national nonprofit committed to creating a trauma-informed society where individuals, families, and communities have the support and resources necessary to thrive. Through advocacy, policy, and education, CTIPP is building a movement that integrates trauma-informed, resilience-focused, and healing-centered prevention, intervention, and treatment approaches across all sectors and generations.

Connect with CTIPP on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.


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