InsiderAdvantage: Ferguson Applauds Bipartisan Support of the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines Act
Thursday, June 30th, 2022
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Georgia Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA-03) believes early intervention is one of the critical components of mental healthcare, especially for students. Late last week, Ferguson took to the floor of the U.S. House to speak on his legislation – the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines (BIG) Act, which supports students’ mental and behavioral health. Ferguson’s BIG Act was being offered as an amendment to H.R. 7666, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Well-Being Act, and passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 320-103.
According to Ferguson, this legislation will enable the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 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. The best practices would rely on evidence-based tactics to identify students who are at risk of harming themselves or others and address their mental and behavioral health needs.
According to Ferguson, the legislation grew out of innovative programs at two public universities, including Georgia’s Columbus State University and Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. Columbus State developed its program to help students get the support needed before a problem develops into a crisis.
“We have seen over the past couple of years a significant rise in mental health issues with our students – whether it’s in high school, whether it’s in middle school or whether it’s in college,” Ferguson said on the House Floor. “We have seen the effects of the pandemic, but a lot of other things have created this mental health crisis of our children around America and what our children need are resources, and they need resources at a very early stage.
“And what the BIG Act does is it accumulates best practices from different schools around the country, and it makes sure that we intervene with students early,” Ferguson added. “We want to get these young people the resources that they need. There are a couple of things about this we think are very important. Number one, early intervention has been proven to show that we can prevent a catastrophic event.”
Ferguson went on to say: “We want students to be healthy and happy and functioning, but what we would also like to do is limit the interaction with the law enforcement, and we want to make sure that the students are getting these resources across the board. So, this body passed the BIG Act last year and they did it with wide bipartisan support. However, the Senate did not take this bill up, so I say, let’s do it again. Let’s pass it as a part of this important package.”
Ferguson first introduced the BIG ACT in 2021, and it won House approval then with wide bi-partisan support.