With the window closing for federal action this year, the Association of Big Ten Students launched a social media campaign Monday urging Congress to bring two mental health bills to vote. The hashtag #UnitedforMentalHealth has become the rallying cry for students to call upon legislators to back the Mental Health Reform Act and Mental Health on Campus Improvement Act. Sara Zaheer, Indiana University Student Body President, was a driving force behind the effort, having seen broad commitment to improving mental health services across the Big Ten and around the country.
“Mental health has been on a lot of student government legislative agendas and has been a student priority for the last couple of years. We have this window of opportunity before this last congressional session ends to get some bipartisan legislation passed that would help fund mental health services, training, advocacy and outreach efforts,” said Zaheer.
Zaheer reached out to Iowa Student Government President Rachel Zuckerman to kickoff the planning for the campaign. After speaking with Sammy Geisginer, Executive Director of the Association of Big Ten Students, the three student leaders pooled their resources and respective networks to design graphics and popularize the movement.
In a Facebook post, Iowa Student Government President Rachel Zuckerman noted, “It is entirely possible for Congress to increase federal mental health funding but with competing priorities for this small pocket of time, we want to ensure that mental health legislation does not fall to the wayside before Congress adjourns in December. We must act now to remind Congress that mental health is a national priority.”
Zaheer stated it was reassuring to see the hashtag gain popularity online. She remains hopeful that the campaign will show legislators that young people care about the issue.
“If you want to get involved in the conversation, share your story, share your reasons why mental health resources will help you succeed in school. Reach out to your congressman and woman and get them on board to show their support for this bill,” said Zaheer.
Editor’s Note: Support for legislative action referenced in the story reflects the views of the individuals interviewed and not that of NCLC. As a nonprofit organization, NCLC does not support or oppose legislation.