On Thursday, the House passed a bill aimed at expanding access to mental health services in schools that garnered only one Republican vote, despite the party’s ceaseless scapegoating of mental illness for issues in the U.S.
The Mental Health Matters Act passed 220 to 205 on a largely party line vote, with all 205 “no” votes coming from Republicans. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania) cast the sole Republican “yes” vote.
The bill introduced byRep. Mark DeSaulnier (D.California). supportedThe White House would provide grantsSchools to hire more mental health professionals and expand their mental health services, particularly in high-need areas. It would also provide mental health protectionsHead Start programs are available to children and staff of Head Start programs. They are designed to serve low-income children, ranging from birth to age 5, and adults with private insurance.
“Educators have been forced to play an outsized role in supporting and responding to students’ mental health needs, leading to increased depression and trauma among educators, their students, and the families and the community,” DeSaulnier said on the need for his bill, per The Hill. “However, our schools do not have the specialized staff necessary to respond to the increased prevalence and complexity of students’ mental health needs.”
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) took issue with a portion of the bill that punishes employers when employees are denied mental health and substance use benefits and said that the “country would be better off without” the bill.
Experts have said that children’s mental health is in crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on children’s mental health, whether Through trauma, lossResearch has shown that there is a rise in mental health crises among children as a result of this. Pediatric mental health professionals say that legislation aimed at permanently increasing resources for children’s mental health is sorely needed.
Democrats condemned Republicans who voted against the bill. “This afternoon we voted to create more mental health services in schools and 99.5 percent of republicans voted no and told kids to go to hell,” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr (D-New Jersey) wrote on Twitter.
Others pointed out that Republicans have spent months, if not years, scapegoating mental health issues as a catch-all for problems like mass shootings — which, in reality, are often spurred byWhite supremacist ideology and far right radicalization. Republicans are known to raise concerns about mental health in order distract from other issues.
After the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, Republicans and the far right scrambled to spread disinformation online about the shooter, pinning the problem on groups they wished to demonize — including trans people, those with mental illnesses and the Democratic Party.
“Well, it’s just tragic what happened down there. We learn something new every day about how can we improve,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) said on Fox NewsAfter the shooting. He said that there should be a funding influx for “focusing on mental health” in response to the shooting. McCarthy voted no on Thursday to the bill.
In reality, Republicans who voted for mental health funding as a response to the horrifying mass shootings in Orlando are likely to be ready for any future attempts. curtail gun ownershipReduce the power of gun lobby, and, in Uvalde’s case, Examine the police and their failures.to prevent or take action on the shooting.
In other words, political commentators have pointed out that mental health issues are a major concern act as aRepublicans have a shiny object to wave around, which is a political convenience that allows them to continue expanding and perpetuating their roots of violence and hatred.
For example, Republicans have repeatedly suggested that school shutdowns and remote learning were the real plague on children’s mental health during the pandemic. But the deaths of teachers and caregivers that likelyWould have been caused by hasty school openings would almost certainly have had an equal if not larger tollOn children’s mental health.