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Senator King backs bill to improve mental health services in Maine schools

Senator Angus King is giving his support to a bill that would increase the number of mental health counselors in Maine schools.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sad and contemplative young woman.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — Senator Angus King (I) is supporting a bill that would help Maine schools provide better mental health services to its students. 

The Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Act would establish grants that would help ensure every school can meet the recommended counselor-to-student ratio.

The American School Counselor Association says the recommended student-to-counselor ratio is 250 students per counselor, Maine's ratio exceeds that with 321 students per counselor. The national average is 455 students per counselor and continues to rise. Maine's rate is 321 students per counselor. 

Senator King said, "Every student should be able to access help if and when they need it, and no student should have to wait months for treatment."

According to the National Alliance of Mental illness (NAMI) one in five (20%) of children will be affected with mental illness. Approximately half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, one-third of students age 14 and older with a mental illness will drop out of school, and 90% of youth who die by suicide had a mental illness. 

Back in May of 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed a bill that would promote mental health education in Maine schools.

Under the new law, elementary, junior high, and high schools in the state will be required to include lessons about mental health and the relationship between physical and mental health in their health education curriculums.

The bill that Sen. King is supporting is endorsed by the National Education Association, The National PTA, The National Association of School Psychologists, the School Social Work Association of American, the American School Counselor Association, and the American Psychological Association.

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