Amy R. Beck, PhD, RYT 200
On June 15, the American Psychological Association hosted its first in-person Capitol Hill visit since 2020. More than 100 psychologists descended upon Washington, DC for the Grassroots Advocacy Network Fly-In to advocate to Congress about new legislation. As the Division Advocacy Partner for SPP (and the Federal Advocacy Coordinator for the Missouri Psychological Association), I was invited to attend. I am thrilled that the legislation was focused on youth mental health! Thus, I encourage all of us as pediatric psychologists and trainees to amplify these visits with brief calls and/or emails to members of Congress.
There were two asks of Congress:
1. Support the Kids Online Safety Act (S.1409), abbreviated as KOSA, which is bipartisan Senate legislation with 5 main aims:
- Require social media companies to be responsible for “duty of care.” This is the primary goal, because it legislates these companies to have a responsibility to prevent and mitigate harms to children incurred via their platforms.
- Require companies to create new parental controls that provide education and options for parents and children to further identify and report harmful behaviors (e.g. disordered eating, suicidality, sexual exploitation) on social media.
- Enhance the default security and privacy settings for young users.
- Require social media companies to conduct an annual independent audit that identifies the risks to children on their platform, and report this to Congress.
- Increase access for public and academic researchers to platform data.
- Enforcing this legislation would be of no cost to Congress, as it would fall under the existing resources of the Federal Trade Commission.
2. Sponsor legislation to authorize a Youth Mental Health Research Initiative
- Request that Congress authorize $100 million per year for 5 years via a collaboration initiative of the:
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
- National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
- The goal of this initiative is to develop research to guide the long-term recovery and resilience of youth, reduce health disparities, and improve treatments delivered to youth in crisis.
- Notably, Congress has recently increased funding for mental health services, but not yet for mental health research.
To advocate to your members of Congress, find their names and contact information via this link. Calls are more effective than emails, but either are more effective than silence. It will only take a few moments to make the following asks:
|Legislative Ask||To Senator||To House Representative|
|KOSA (S.1409)||To co-sponsor and support the bill||To consider being an original sponsor or co-sponsor of a new House companion bill and/or to support the Senate bill if it comes to the House|
|Youth Mental Health Research Initiative (it is not yet a bill, so does not have a bill number)||To join with Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) to introduce and/or support legislation to authorize additional funding for youth mental health research||To join with Representative Watson Coleman (D-NJ) to introduce and/or support legislation to authorize additional funding for youth mental health research|
Alternatively, you can keep it simple and let your Senators and Representative know that you support keeping kids safe online, specifically via KOSA, and increasing funding for youth mental health research.
Ultimately, please remember that true north is to use the power of your voice as a constituent and to let your elected officials know what is important to you as a pediatric mental health expert. Feel free to reach out to me with any questions or concerns.