Advocating for healthy futures

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 SAMHSA, nearly 3 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, 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.

Our Policy Domains

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:

Comprehensive Mental Health and Suicide Prevention School Policies:
Systemic evaluation and implementation of comprehensive mental health and suicide prevention planning (prevention, intervention, and postvention) in school settings.

Awareness & Education:
School staff and student training on mental health and suicide prevention, focused on the development of life skills and resilience; promoting help-seeking behavior; fostering social connectedness; and identifying people who may be struggling and referring them to appropriate care.

Equitable Access to Mental Health Services:
Policies that ensure 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.

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

Culturally Responsive Support:
Policies that ensure culturally responsive support through mentorship, empowerment, and social connectedness for students at higher risk of adverse mental health outcomes, including those who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, gender non-conforming, undocumented, etc.

Financial support should be provided to schools 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

The Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act (H.R. 4327 – Rep. Susan Wild)
This 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.

Strengthening Behavioral Health Supports for Schools Act of 2020 (H.R.7859 – Rep. Tony Cárdenas):
This bill would establish in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) a Center for School Behavioral Health Technical Assistance. This center would provide support and services to schools with respect to mental health and substance use disorders, such as disseminating best practices and offering implementation support.

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.

Letter to Improve Mental Health on College Campuses
JED recently led a group of mental health organizations and stakeholders in sending a letter to the Senate HELP Committee urging them to move forward with S.4970, the Enhancing Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Through Campus Planning Act. See the letter here.

Please read our Full Policy Platform to learn more about JED’s advocacy efforts. To learn more, please email Buki: