ASBMB endorses the Higher Education Mental Health Act of 2021

Dec. 1, 2021

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology today enthusiastically endorsed H.R. 5654, the Higher Education Mental Health Act of 2021.    

“Students at both the undergraduate and graduate level have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Benjamin Corb, ASBMB’s public affairs director. “According to one National Science Foundation-funded study, graduate students reported concerning levels of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. In addition, they described economic precarity related to food and housing insecurity and a lack of institutional support. The pandemic also is likely to have long-lasting effects on students who have had to extend their research timelines and time to complete their degrees.” 

Students who identify as nonbinary or genderqueer, international students, and those from underrepresented backgrounds reported more negative mental health effects and degree delays. Without support or intervention from universities, Corb said, students will be “pushed out of the academic pipeline and out of their careers of choice.” 

H.R. 5654 was introduced by U.S. Reps. David Trone, D-Md., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., Susan Wild, D-Penn., and John Joyce, R-Penn. If passed, it would establish a commission to study the mental health concerns facing students at universities and other institutions of higher education, provide a report to Congress on the mental health services available to college students, and create a roadmap for improving mental health services at American universities. 

“The act will go a long way toward understanding better the mental health concerns facing students after the pandemic and will push American universities to improve their mental health services,” Corb said. “We applaud Reps. Trone, Fitzpatrick, Wild and Joyce for being leaders in helping students recover from the pandemic and continue in their education.  We look forward to working with the bill’s sponsors to see this important legislation passed by this Congress.”