HARRISBURG, Pa. (WENY) – This week, Governor Josh Shapiro is working to build support for student mental health investments in his budget. The Democratic governor was in western Pennsylvania yesterday and in Philadelphia today to highlight his proposals.
Shapiro’s budget includes $500 million over the next five years for student mental health, including on-site counselors and services at schools. He’s also proposing $20 million in the next fiscal year to restore mental health funding to Pennsylvania counties and community-based mental health services for residents. $5 million is also included for one-time buildout costs of the 988 system and sustainable future funding for the 14-suicide prevention lifeline call centers in Pennsylvania.
“We need a comprehensive approach to deliver real help for young people struggling with their mental health, and that’s why we need to work with parents, teachers, and mental health professionals to ensure those resources are available,” said Shapiro.
Shapiro says students are leading the way when it comes to mental health discussions.
“There’s been a stigma associated with mental health and getting help for mental health challenges. But what’s exciting for me and what’s uplifting for me is that with this generation, that stigma is starting to dissipate,” said Shapiro on Weds. “Young people are showing the adults the way,” he added.
Shapiro says a major issue students discussed with him is a lack of sleep. He said he’d work with lawmakers and the Department of Education to explore, potentially, pushing back the start of the school day.
The budget deadline for Shapiro and lawmakers in Harrisburg is quickly approaching. Shapiro wants to see his mental health proposals in the final Fiscal Year 2023-24 budget, which is due at the end of June.
“We’re committed to working- Democrats and Republicans alike- to passing a budget that invests in making sure our students have what they need. Our students are crying out for help, and it is up to us to deliver for them,” said Shapiro. “That is why I reiterate my call to lawmakers of both parties to say, let’s prioritize our kids and let’s get this done. Let’s make these investments and ensure that we have healthy, safe communities for all of these students,” he added.