Congressman Drew Ferguson Introduces Bill Supporting Mental Health Services

Staff Report

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

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U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA.) has joined with a number of his peers on both sides of the aisle to introduce legislation designed to support students’ mental and behavioral health. The Behavioral Intervention Guidelines (BIG) Act would allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in consultation with the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and a wide array of stakeholders to develop best practices for the proper use and implementation of behavioral intervention programs to help communities identify the earliest signs of violence to self or others. 

“We cannot ignore the mental health ramifications of the pandemic,” Ferguson said. “The devastating medical and economic consequences—compounded by stress and isolation—have profoundly impacted the mental health and well-being of many Americans. The BIG Act works to bring the silent effects of this epidemic out of the shadows by providing local communities and educational systems with the tools to help identify mental health needs before it’s too late.  

“Now more than ever, we need to provide students with the opportunity to thrive in a secure environment while ensuring sure those students approaching a crisis point get the resources they need to lead healthy, productive lives. I am proud the state of Georgia has been a model in addressing mental health issues,” he added.   

According to Ferguson, Columbus State University in Georgia is one of a number of educational institutions that have implemented successful behavioral intervention programs following the 2008 tragedy at Virginia Tech University.   

Columbus State has also  joined a number of others in vocally supporting the legislation, including The National Association of Behavior Intervention and Threat Assessment (NABITA), Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), Association for Title IX Administrators (ATIXA), National Association of School Psychologist (NASP), NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), School Superintendents Association, National School Boards Association, International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, Sandy Hook Promise, the Higher Education Case Manager’s Association (HECMA), and the Jed Foundation (JED).   

Ferguson teamed with Congressmen Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas), Scott Peters (D-Calif), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif), and U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Angus King (I-ME) to create the BIG Act. Texas Tech University has also implemented a successful behavioral intervention program.