The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act (HR 4327, 116th Congress) amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve mental health and suicide prevention in higher education; this is primarily achieved by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), particularly the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to encourage colleges and universities to increase their efforts for suicide prevention and mental illness intervention. This bill would not place any legal requirements on institutions of higher education or give SAMHSA any new abilities to create regulations around this topic. Rather, this bill works in conjunction with pre-existing laws to improve suicide prevention and mental health intervention.
The bill requires SAMHSA to align their promotional efforts with the efforts currently being conducted by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, especially the Center’s Comprehensive Approach to Suicide Prevention, which outlines nine steps for preventing suicides in community settings, such as in the workplace or at school. Additionally, the bill requires that SAMHSA’s efforts be aligned with provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act, a 2016 law designed to quicken the approval process for health care innovations and technologies, and with programs already conducted under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, a 2004 law that provides general communities and college campuses with funds to improve suicide prevention efforts, such as the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
Implementation of the Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act shall consider existing state-level interventions for addressing mental health and suicides in higher education. Additionally, SAMHSA may coordinate their encouragement efforts with nonprofit organizations and other experts or stakeholders in campus mental health care and suicide prevention.
HHS will file a report to Congress within both one and three years of the bill’s enactment regarding their progress in promoting campus mental health and suicide prevention.
This bill is included in the omnibus College Affordability Act (HR 4674, 116th Congress), which passed the House Committee on Education and Labor on October 31, 2019.