Congress has taken meaningful action to make schools safer. NABITA, the National Association for Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment, is pleased to announce the inclusion of the Behavioral Intervention Guidelines Act or BIG Act language in the Omnibus spending package recently approved by Congress.
The BIG Act-inspired language incorporated in the FY 23 spending bill directs the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to develop behavioral intervention best practices for schools and higher education institutions and report back to Congress. These guidelines will offer schools a roadmap on how to properly establish behavioral intervention teams, which are comprised of small groups of school officials who meet regularly to collect and review concerning information about at-risk community members and develop plans to assist them. These teams will be tasked to intervene to prevent or address the emergence of self-harm behaviors, threats to others, and significant mental health crises while ensuring that students are not targeted by race, disability, or other potentially biasing factors.
NABITA is especially grateful for the leadership of our champions in Congress,
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Senator Angus S. King, Jr. (I-ME), and Rep. Drew Ferguson for all their work getting the BIG language incorporated in the bill. As a member organization, NABITA knows firsthand how vital BITs have been to schools and its partners have done amazing work over the last two years helping educate Congress and bring these guidelines to the public.
“Many violent incidents at schools are preventable, but it’s critical educators are trained to recognize and respond to the signs that often precede them,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation will help inform the development of best practices for schools implementing life-saving behavioral intervention programs to protect the wellbeing of students in communities across the country, and I’m glad it is now law.”
“The last few years have exposed a real shortcoming in how America approaches mental health, especially for our children and students who experienced significant disruptions in their educations and social lives,” said Sen. King. “It’s time for new thinking that will be proactive and not just reactive. Young Americans deserve to get help before a mental health challenge becomes a crisis. The BIG Act establishes guidelines for local schools to identify students who need support and who may pose a danger to themselves or others. It also improves the connections between students and nearby mental health care providers, so that when a mental health challenge arises, our children can swiftly receive the care they need. All told, this is a significant, commonsense step to give local leaders the tools to keep our communities safe and our children’s futures bright. I’m grateful for Senator Cornyn’s partnership on this bipartisan legislation and am deeply grateful we were able to get it passed into law.”
The BIT guidelines will help schools across the nation implement life-saving programs to ensure students stay safe, healthy, and successful by offering them a road map for the expansion of behavioral intervention best practices throughout the country.
“As an organization that supports the practitioners who work every day to support their students and make their schools safer, we are excited by the resources that will be provided to NABITA’s members by these guidelines,” states Makenzie Schiemann, M.S., Ph.D., President of NABITA.
To learn more about the BIG Act, read FAQs, and discover NABITA’s legislative efforts on behalf of its members, click here.
Founded in the wake of the tragedies of the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University shootings, the National Association for Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment (NABITA) is committed to providing education, development, and support to professionals who endeavor every day to create safer environments through caring prevention and intervention. With nearly 5,000 active members from colleges, universities, schools, and organizations, NABITA is the leading association for behavioral intervention teams (BITs). We bring together professionals across multiple disciplines who are engaged in the essential function of behavioral intervention in schools, college campuses, workplaces, and organizations for mutual support and shared learning. For more information, visit www.nabita.org or follow our press and media relations account on Twitter at @presstng.