Senate Bill 1302, a measure authored by State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) will provide grants to high schools to establish or improve wellness and mental health support centers on campus. It passed the Senate Floor with bi-partisan support today.
“At a time when teachers and administrators are overwhelmed and our students need access to mental health resources more than ever, it is critical that we step up and increase emotional and mental help support on our campuses,” commented Senator Portantino. “SB 1302 is necessary for the long-term wellbeing and academic success of our students.”
Recent studies suggest that a majority of students are not currently receiving the emotional support they need. More than 75% of principals stated that the mental health needs of students were a problem on campus, and two-thirds of teachers said they were unequipped to deal with their students’ mental health needs. A 2020 study by the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission found that one in three high school students reported feeling chronically sad and hopeless, with the number rising to more than half for LGBT students. One in six high school students reported having considered suicide in the past year, and one in three LGBT students.
SB 1302 would appropriate $1 billion to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to provide annual grants of up to $250,000 to each California high school to establish or improve student wellness centers. The bill would require grant funds to provide comprehensive medical and behavioral health services, including activities that will help students to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit in order to learn successfully. SB 1302 would authorize grant funds to be used for personnel to support pupil health. Finally, SB 1302 would require the State Department of Education to identify criteria for the evaluation of applicants and the awarding of grants.
“The time is now to invest in our student’s wellbeing. We have a historic budget surplus and if we can’t utilize it to meet our student’s needs, I’m determined to find a funding source that will accomplish this needed support,” concluded Portantino.
Senator Portantino has long been advocating for policies that improve mental health outcomes for youth. Last year, he authored SB 14 and SB 224, which address the growing mental health crisis among California’s youth by implementing mental health education and training in schools. Governor Newsom signed both measures into law. The Senator also previously authored SB 972, a measure that required schools to print the suicide hotline on student identification cards. Additionally, the Senator dedicated three years to pass SB 328, which pushes back school start times for middle and high schools.