Recognizing Bullying Prevention Month
October is Bullying Prevention Month and this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. These two commemorations present an opportunity for us to raise awareness and stop bullying in our schools while considering the ways in which bullying contributes to the youth mental health crisis across the country.
Throughout my time in public service, I have prioritized the expansion of mental health services for children by meeting them where they are – in schools. 1 in 5 high school students reported being bullied in the last year, and 1 in 6 reported being cyberbullied. Victims of bullying not only experience worsened mental health, but they are also more at risk of depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school.
That’s why in 2022, I helped lead the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which is providing health care services for students and promoting better coordination between federal agencies to ensure access to affordable, high-quality care. As co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee’s Youth Mental Health Working Group, I worked to include a provision in this law to increase resources for telehealth services, in addition to in-school services, so that students can get the help they need, when they need it most.
I’ve also fought to make sure students in Delaware can access mental health services to prevent the causes and outcomes of bullying. Last year, Senator Coons, Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester and I joined U.S. Department of Education Secretary Dr. Miguel Cardona to announce $4.8 million dedicated to expanding mental health services for K-12 students in all Delaware schools. This funding applies to schools like Eisenberg Elementary, which was the first elementary school in our state to have a wellness center.
I’ve long believed that we should bring services right where our students are – even going back to when I was Governor, when I led the initiative to put a nurse in every public school and a wellness center in every public high school. During that time, I also established the Family Services Cabinet Council which, to this day, helps to coordinate better mental and physical health care coordination for children and families in the First State.
Every day I live by the Golden Rule: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” This month especially, remind your friends and family to be kind to one another. No one should fear going to school, or sacrifice their education, because of bullying.