The historic Bipartisan Safer Communities Act will help hire and train more than 14,000 school mental health professionals as part of the single largest investment in student mental health in history.
Vice President Kamala Harris continued her leadership on gun violence prevention by announcing an additional $285 million in funding to help schools across the country hire and train mental health counselors. The funding to hire and train counselors, psychologists, social workers, and other mental health professionals is a result of the historic Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years.
This legislation that President Biden and Vice President Harris fought to enact is also the single largest investment in student mental health in history and will help to hire and train more than 14,000 school mental health professionals throughout America. This includes more than 300 new mental health counselors in North Carolina.
Vice President Harris Convenes a Roundtable Discussion on Gun Violence Prevention
“In the United States of America today, the number one killer of our children is gun violence…and when we take the time to consider what this means, let us understand how many people in our country, including our children, are experiencing profound trauma that manifests itself in so many ways,” said Vice President Harris. “We are here today to talk about many things including the need for reasonable gun safety laws, but also the trauma and what we must do to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of it. For all of those reasons, I am proud to be here to share that we are announcing $285 million as part of our administration’s initiative to hire and train mental health counselors in schools.”
Joined by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, the Vice President also announced more than $6 million for community violence intervention through the Department of Education. This funding is being awarded to seven school districts across the country as part of the Project Prevent grant program, which will support community- and school-based strategies to help prevent and mitigate the impacts of community violence on students, including exposure to gun violence. The announcements came during a roundtable conversation convened by the Vice President at a Charlotte-area middle school with students, educators, counselors, parents, gun safety advocates, and local and state leaders. While in North Carolina, Vice President Harris also met with students who had been directly impacted by gun violence.
“This is a time of profound challenges to the mental health of our nation’s students. As an educator, I can tell you that across our country, millions of students are not reaching their God-given potential because they fear for their safety or lack a sense of belonging in school,” said Secretary Cardona. “Make no mistake: you cannot separate the need to accelerate our students’ academic success with the need to have safe and welcoming learning conditions, free from fear and violence. We need to boldly improve learning conditions and step up our focus on youth mental health.”
During the 2019-2020 school year, nearly half of public schools reported that they did not provide diagnostic mental health services for students. Only 42 percent offered mental health treatment services.
Vice President Harris is overseeing the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention and has consistently led on addressing the epidemic of gun violence throughout her time in office. Last month, she convened nearly 100 state legislators from 39 states to launch the Biden-Harris Administration’s Safer States Initiative, which will provide states with additional tools and support to advance commonsense gun safety initiatives and save lives in communities across the country. The Biden-Harris Administration has taken more executive action to reduce gun violence than any other Administration, and continues to call on Congress to build on this work by renewing the assault weapons ban, passing red flag legislation, and requiring background checks for all gun sales at a time when guns are the leading cause of death for children in America.
The Vice President has also grieved with families who have been impacted by the epidemic of gun violence and has partnered with gun safety advocates. In December, she met with Gabby Giffords and gun safety advocate Trevon Bosley to discuss ongoing work to end gun violence.
Thanks to the leadership of Gabby Giffords and young advocates like Trevon, President Biden and I have passed the most historic gun safety legislation in nearly 30 years.
Last week, we sat down to discuss their tremendous courage and our continued fight to end gun violence. pic.twitter.com/NLs60Lqlzi
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) December 13, 2023
In September, she welcomed Grammy-nominated artist Quavo from the hip hop group Migos to the White House for a conversation about advancing commonsense gun safety policies. She also headlined Everytown for Gun Safety’s annual Gun Sense University conference and marked Gun Violence Awareness Day by delivering remarks that called on young people to continue their efforts to end gun violence – a message she brought to every campus on her nationwide “Fight for Our Freedoms” college tour that took place in the fall with more than 15,000 students.
This trip to North Carolina is the Vice President’s ninth to the state since being sworn in. It follows an event in Atlanta, GA on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 where Vice President Harris convened community leaders who are on the frontlines of the fight for voting rights and other fundamental freedoms. On Monday, January 15, she will return to South Carolina for the second time in 2024 to deliver the keynote address at the South Carolina NAACP’s annual “King Day at the Dome” event.