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Shaheen Announces Maureen O’Dea as Virtual Guest for President Biden’s Address to Congress to Shine a Light On Youth Mental Health Crisis

**Maureen O’Dea is President of the New Hampshire School Counselors Association and Director of School Counseling at Londonderry High School**

**O’Dea released a video statement thanking Shaheen & pledging her commitment to address the epidemic of mental health challenges**

**Shaheen recently hosted a virtual discussion on the youth and teen mental health crisis attended by O’Dea and other New Hampshire experts**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced that she is recognizing Maureen O’Dea of Merrimack as her “virtual guest” for President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress to shine a light on the need to address the teen mental health crisis. O’Dea is President of the New Hampshire School Counselors Association and Director of School Counseling at Londonderry High School. She recently participated in a roundtable hosted by Shaheen to discuss the youth and teen mental health crisis facing families in New Hampshire and across the country. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, O’Dea will not join Senator Shaheen in person for the President’s address.

“It’s an honor to recognize Maureen O’Dea as my guest to the President’s upcoming address to Congress. Maureen has been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis assisting Granite State teenagers and youth who are experiencing immense challenges with their mental health, which has worsened during the pandemic. She has worked tirelessly to advocate for students as they adapt to these difficult times and grapple with grief, anxiety and trauma,” said Shaheen. “I’ve worked in Congress to bolster the mental health workforce and ensure schools have the resources they need to provide for students’ health and safety. I look forward to hearing the President’s message to the American people tonight and to partnering with the Biden administration to ensure we meet our students’ mental health needs in our recovery efforts as we turn the page of the COVID-19 crisis.” 

O’Dea released a video statement ahead of the President’s address, which you can view here.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a serious toll on the mental health of Granite Staters – particularly young people. Over the past year, a record number of New Hampshire children have sought psychiatric care.  There was nearly a 20 percent increase in the number of children calling a state-wide mental health crisis hotline last year. Compounding these struggles are severe financial difficulties that many mental health providers across the state are facing that threaten their ability to stay open.

Shaheen fought for the inclusion of $4.25 billion in funding to support substance use disorder treatment and mental health care services in New Hampshire and across the country in the emergency COVID relief legislation that became law in December. The Shaheen-backed American Rescue Plan also included nearly $4 billion in emergency funding for substance use and mental health programs, which included funding to improve children’s access to mental health care and support community mental health providers.