The National Association for Music Education is proud to endorse the Supporting the Mental Health of Educators and Staff Act (H.R. 744). Introduced by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Susan Wild (PA-07), this legislation seeks to increase the availability of and awareness around mental health resources for teachers and school staff. Recognizing the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic had on the educator workforce, this legislation seeks to;
- Require coordination between federal agencies to develop best practices
- Destigmatize mental health care among the education workforce
- Provide direct support to educators and school staff members by establishing programs to promote mental health among the education professional workforce
- Promote accountability for federal resources for new mental health programs
Educators and school staff are the backbone of a healthy learning environment. They work tirelessly to provide students with a space that supports their learning as well as their mental health. That role has become especially crucial as we transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in declines in both student mental health and academic performance. It will not be possible for educators and school staff to support the recovery of student mental health, academic performance, and engagement in music programs if they are unable to support their own mental health. Addressing the mental health of the education workforce is a crucial first step in addressing the academic declines of students.
As our country continues to address the number of teachers leaving the profession, we must recognize that the decline in the mental health of the education workforce is a key factor in workplace attrition. According to a recent RAND report, on average, educators are three times more likely to report symptoms of depression than other adults, often citing burnout and stress as primary reasons for leaving the education profession. Congress provided much needed funding to support student mental health through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and we believe similar action must be taken to address the mental health of the educator workforce.
The Supporting the Mental Health of Educators and Staff Act makes significant strides in increasing the availability of and awareness around mental health supports for educators, and we urge members of Congress to support this legislation. NAfME is proud to support this bill and hopes Congress continues taking action to support our educator workforce and address the number of educators leaving the profession.
A summary of the legislation can be found here, and the full text can be found here.
March 15, 2023. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)