Readout of School Safety Meeting on the Integration of Behavioral Health into America's Schools

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Readout of School Safety Meeting on the Integration of Behavioral Health into America's Schools

July 11, 2018

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar hosted a Federal Commission on School Safety (FCSS) meeting on July 11, 2018, in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building's Indian Treaty Room. Entitled "Curating a Healthier & Safer Approach: Issues of Mental Health and Counseling for our Young," the meeting focused on mental and behavioral health, and issues that arise under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Secretary Azar was joined by Commission Chair Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, as well as commission members Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

"We're here to focus on the question of our children's mental health," Secretary Azar said in his opening remarks. "Many children struggle with what are known as serious emotional disturbances, which are severe mental health challenges that interfere with their daily lives. Despite having diagnosable disorders that can be treated, many do not receive adequate care. Addressing this public health crisis requires a concerted multi-dimensional approach."

Three panels of experts shared their experiences and offered insights, including:

Panel 1: Integrating Behavioral Health Services into Schools

  • Sheryl Kataoka, M.D., Professor-in-Residence in the UCLA Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. (Testimony)

Panel 2: Psychotropic Medications for Children

  • Gabrielle A. Carlson, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and Director Emerita of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at State University of New York. (Testimony)
  • Mark Olfson, M.D., MPH, Professor of Psychiatry and Epidemiology, Mental Health Services Researcher and Research Psychiatrist at Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute. (Testimony)

Panel 3: Addressing Confidentiality Issues Related to HIPAA/FERPA

  • Jennifer Mathis, Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. (Testimony)
  • Doris A. Fuller, MFA, mental illness researcher, advocate and family member. (Testimony)
  • Sonja Trainor, Managing Director of Legal Advocacy at the National School Boards Association (NSBA). (Testimony)
  • John Verdi, Vice President of Policy at the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF). (Testimony)