On Tuesday, Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) introduced legislation to help address rising suicide rates in black teens.
CBS News reports that The Pursuing Equity in Mental Health Act of 2019 seeks to invest over a billion dollars into improving mental health care conditions for black youth. This comes on the heels of a report that details suicide rates have been trending upward for black youth more than any other group. The majority of the funds in the proposed legislation would go towards helping the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities research the disparities between the mental health of minorities and the rest of the population. The rest of the money would be invested into helping fund more culturally sensitive mental health care in schools for minority youth, helping the National Institutes of Health to engage in better outreach and patient-based research in minority communities and to help students of color break into the field of mental healthcare.
Watson Coleman is quoted as saying, “As a black community, there has always been a sort of stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment[...] We’ve been taught to sort of buck it up. You know how this society is. Be strong. If you’re religious, lean on Jesus and on and on. What we realized is that we have missed the opportunity in many instances to deal with what is illness.”
We can only hope that this legislation is passed soon so work can get started on saving our youth.