WASHINGTON, D.C. (WHNT) — Alabama Senator Katie Britt is teaming up with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) are partnering up to introduce a bill to help fight the youth mental health crisis.

The junior Alabama Senator and the former Democrat presidential candidate announced Thursday that they are co-sponsoring the ‘Youth Mental Health Research Act.

The bill looks to set up a national Youth Mental Health Research Initiative that will help guide long-term mental health care efforts, better target preventative interventions for those at risk and improve treatments for children.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Muthy issued an advisory on protecting youth mental health in December 2021, calling attention to the national crisis. A release about the bill from Britt’s office says that last year, over 2.5 million youth in the U.S. had severe major depression. In 2021, more than 1 in 5 students seriously considered attempting suicide.

Britt’s office said the legislation will specifically:

  • Allow the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to partner on fundamental and applied research to improve youth mental health;
  • Support social, behavioral, cognitive, and developmental research to increase tools to identify, support, and best care for young people at risk and those in crisis;
  • Help coordinate research to improve the targeting and delivery of mental health interventions in clinical and community settings where young people live, play, work and learn.

Britt called the current crisis devastating and says it has only grown over recent years.

“As the United States contends with a devastating, growing youth mental health crisis, it is more important now than ever that we take meaningful action to protect our nation’s children. Last year, one in three high school girls said that they considered suicide, and almost one in 10 high school students reported actually attempting suicide in the previous 12 months. As a mom, I am proud to introduce this legislation that would support critical research and enable evidence-based solutions to this generational challenge. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to preserve the American Dream for generations to come,”

Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL)

Klobuchar said the legislation will help assess the scope of the crisis, so that young people can be offered better support.

“Over the past few years, a rising number of young people have experienced mental health challenges. To understand how we can best support them, we must assess the scope of this youth mental health crisis and take steps to promote recovery and healing,” Klobuchar said. “Our bipartisan legislation would create a national research initiative to develop evidence-based mental health resources and treatments to address this crisis and ensure young people have the support they need.”

Britt’s office said the companion legislation is being led in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Congressman Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ).

You can read the full text of the bill here.