New York State will become the first state to require that all schools integrate mental health education into the health curriculum in elementary, middle, and senior high schools, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. Amelia Harper explains in Education Dive that the new curriculum is still being developed but that it includes “personal responsibility for mental health, recognizing signs and symptoms, cultural perceptions of mental illness, identifying appropriate supports and managing mental health crisis situations.”
Mental health was not emphasized for many students and was taught at some schools but not others, according to Glenn Liebman, chief executive of the Mental Health Association of New York State.
Michael Virtanen of the Associated Press states that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a “survey of health risks showed almost 18 percent of youths said in 2015 that they seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months” and notes that “about 50 percent of students with emotional or behavioral disorders drop out of school.” A review of mental health education in New York by John Richter stated that “over 60 percent of young adults with a mental illness were unable to complete high school” and that “1 in 12 high school students have attempted suicide.”
According to Virtanen, the bill’s sponsors believe that “the updated curriculum will increase the likelihood that students recognize the signs of mental illness in themselves and others and seek help when it’s needed.”
The decision to include mental health education across the grades follows from a 2016 law signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo mandating mental health education for all students.
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