President Joe Biden speaks to the media on Monday before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House for a trip to Puerto Rico. His administration announced funding for students' mental healthcare. Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The Biden administration announced Monday that $300 million -- some of it from the new bipartisan gun violence law -- will be used to help students access mental healthcare.
The U.S. Department of Education will allocate competitive grants of $280 million to help with mental health staffing as schools across the country grapple with shortages.
According to a report from the National Center for Educational Statistics, mental health professionals are among the five most understaffed jobs at U.S. public schools.
The Department of Health and Human Services will also allocate funds for emergency departments.
The funding will come from annual appropriations, as well as from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which President Joe Biden signed in June.
The new law aims to help curb gun violence, specifically mass shootings. The law introduces more stringent background checks on people purchasing firearms, including access to juvenile records and information related to mental health. The law also allocates funding to encourage more mental health professionals to work at schools.
Roberto Rodriguez, the education department assistant secretary for planning, evaluation and policy development, told ABC News, "We have never seen this level of investment from the federal level, more specifically in mental health professionals."
Biden has previously pledged to double the number mental health staff in schools.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March said young Americans are in a mental health crisis, with the adversity and disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic increasing their stress, anxiety and depression.
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in December issued a rare public health advisory citing an increasing number of suicide attempts by young people, noting that many students had lost mental health resources during the school shutdowns during the pandemic.