CRIME: Justice, Education Departments Issue Fact Sheet On Supporting Students At Risk Of Self Harm During COVID-19 Era

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dWeb.News Article from Daniel Webster dWeb.News

In recognition of World Mental Health Day, today the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) jointly issued a fact sheet to support students with mental health disabilities, their families, and their schools in the era of COVID-19. OCR also released a letter to educators outlining the civil rights obligations of schools, postsecondary institutions and students with mental disabilities.

The Department of Justice is committed in protecting the rights of students with mental disabilities by vigorously enforcing civil rights laws, especially given the ongoing effects of the pandemic,” stated Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “Students should be supported and not excluded from educational opportunities on the basis of disability.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on student mental health are widespread and deeply concerning,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne B. Goldberg of the Department of Education. “OCR is committed to providing resources to support students with mental health disabilities, including those who may be at risk for self-harm.”

OCR’s June 2021 report, Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America’s Students, showed that COVID-19 has had disproportionately harsh effects on many students with disabilities. Today’s action addresses the pandemic’s impact on mental health of students and provides information about federal civil rights laws protecting students with mental disabilities.

The fact sheet entitled Supporting Students at Risk of Self-Harm in the Era of COVID-19, provides information about federal civil rights laws that protect students with mental health disabilities. This fact sheet provides information about the possible violations that might be investigated by the department. It also gives guidance to schools and postsecondary institutions on how to make an environment more supportive of students with mental disabilities.

World Mental Health Day is an international event to raise awareness about mental health issues worldwide and mobilize support for mental health. More than 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is particularly important to acknowledge the pandemic’s impact on mental health at home and around the world, to present an opportunity for meaningful conversations about mental health, and to celebrate schools and other institutions that have found new and promising ways to provide mental health services to their populations.

The Biden-Harris Administration took significant action to address America’s mental health needs. The President’s Build Back Better agenda also includes funding and support for many programs that aim to improve access to mental healthcare services.

If you believe that you or another person has been discriminated against at school based on a mental health disability, you may file a complaint with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at https://civilrights.justice.gov/ or https://www.ada.gov/fact_on_complaint.htm, or with the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights at https://www2.ed.gov/ocr/complaintintro.html to file a complaint in English or www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/howto.html to file a complaint in other languages.

The guidance is on the Justice Department’s website here and on OCR’s website here.

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