The Jed Foundation (JED) supports policies and legislation that advance a comprehensive public health approach to promoting mental health and preventing suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. Therefore, our advocacy efforts seek to improve mental health and suicide prevention knowledge, programs, and environments, with a particular emphasis on secondary and higher education institutions and the students they serve. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly three in 10 young adults (ages 18-24) experience a mental health challenge each year and in 2018, the CDC reported suicide as the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34. Given the critical role that academic institutions play in the lives of teens and young adults, it is imperative that schools are provided the necessary funding, resources, and knowledge to support student mental well-being.

The ultimate goal of our advocacy work, in conjunction with JED’s programming, is to advance a future where:

  • Every high school and college has a comprehensive system that supports emotional health for all students and reduces the risks of substance misuse and suicide.
  • All teens and young adults are equipped to navigate mental health challenges and to seek and give help, and are emotionally prepared to enter adulthood and fulfill their potential.
  • Our communities support the emotional well-being and mental health of teens and young adults.
  • Mental health is recognized as a part of general health and wellness and is not associated with shame, secrecy, or prejudice.

To accomplish these goals, JED advocates for federal and state policies that intersect with this vision. These policy domains include but are not limited to:

JED's Advocacy Work

Comprehensive Mental Health and Suicide Prevention School Policies
Evaluate and implement comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention planning (prevention, intervention, and postvention) in school settings.

JED's Advocacy Work

Awareness & Education
Train school staff and students on mental health and suicide prevention, focused on the development of life skills and resilience; promote help-seeking behavior; foster social connectedness; and identify people who may be struggling and refer them to appropriate care.

JED's Advocacy Work

Equitable Access to Mental Health Services
Ensure that high schools and colleges/universities provide adequate and equitable mental health services to all students, including the availability of trained and culturally responsive counselors, and academic and non-academic staff to meet the diverse needs of the student population.

JED's Advocacy Work

Accommodations
Ensure that safe, supportive, and positive accommodations are provided in schools for young adults with mental health conditions and learning differences so that they can excel academically, socially, and emotionally. 

JED's Advocacy Work

Culturally Responsive Support
Ensure culturally responsive support through mentorship, empowerment, and social connectedness for students at higher risk of adverse mental health outcomes, including (but not limited to) those who may identify as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, gender non-conforming, and undocumented.

JED's Advocacy Work

Funding
Support schools financially for emotional/mental health and suicide prevention purposes. Immediate and longer-term funding can help schools to develop and implement a Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention. Funding can also be used to bring in outside experts to help provide online resources, awareness campaign materials, advice and consultation, and training opportunities to protect the emotional well-being of their students.

Examples of Legislation & Policies that JED Supports

Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Act (H.R. 1803 – Rep. Tony Cárdenas)
This bill would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a grant program to promote comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention efforts in high schools.

The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act (H.R. 4327 – Rep. Susan Wild)
The bill would authorize the U.S. Department of Education to coordinate with the Health and Human Services Secretary to encourage institutions of higher education to implement comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention plans. These comprehensive plans will align with the recommendations of the supported Suicide Prevention Resource Center strategies, specifically its nine-part Comprehensive Approach to Suicide Prevention.

Temporary Reciprocity to Ensure Access to Treatment Act or TREAT Act (S.4421 – Sen. Chris Murphy)
The TREAT Act would allow practitioners with valid licenses to provide services, including telehealth services, in all states for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Higher Education Mental Health Act (S.1204 – Sen. Bob Casey)
This bill would authorize the Secretary of Education to establish a national advisory commission on supporting students with mental health disabilities in institutions of higher education. A report will be sent to the Secretary of Education, outlining present challenges and making recommendations for improving educational quality and increasing opportunities for these students.

Barriers to Suicide Act (H.R.4309 – Rep. Don Beyer)
This bill would require the Department of Transportation to create a grant program for state and local governments to fund nets and barriers on bridges, which have been demonstrated to be an evidence-based suicide deterrent. Additionally, the Government Accountability Office must conduct a study that explores the effectiveness of nets and barriers for structures other than bridges.

Mental health considered in short- and long-term legislative coronavirus legislation
Signed onto a letter circulated by Well Being Trust and the Trust for America’s Health sent to Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Republican Leader of the House Kevin McCarthy in March 2020.

Tell your elected officials that the time to support Teen and Young Adult Mental Health is NOW! Click here to write to them and introduce yourself as an advocate for our nation’s teens and young adults.

Please read our Full Policy Platform to learn more about JED’s advocacy efforts. To learn more, please email us at advocacy@jedfoundation.org.

JED’s Coalitions
Mental Health for US
Mental Health Liaison Group
Inseparable
Action Alliance

More Resources from Our Partners:
AFSP Public Policy Action Center
Trevor Advocacy
The Kennedy Forum
NAMI Advocacy