The Justice Department and the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights issued a fact sheet on World Mental Health Day to help students struggling with mental health and who may be "at risk for self-harm" amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The fact sheet "Supporting and Protecting the Rights of Students at Risk of Self-Harm in the Era of COVID-19" provides information on civil rights laws that protect students dealing with mental health disabilities.
Students "may be experiencing mental health disabilities for the first time. In some situations, there may be a risk that a student will engage in self-harm or consider suicide," the fact sheet reads.
"The Department of Justice is committed to safeguarding the rights of students with mental health disabilities through vigorous enforcement of the civil rights laws, particularly given the continuing effects of the pandemic," said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, according to a DOJ press release. "Students should be supported and not excluded from educational opportunities on the basis of disability."
Acting Assistant Education Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg said the effects of the pandemic on student mental health are "widespread and deeply concerning."
"OCR is committed to providing resources to support students with mental health disabilities, including those who may be at risk for self-harm," Goldberg continued.
The press release said it is especially important to acknowledge COVID-19'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."
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