New York and Virginia become the first two states to enact laws that require substantial mental health education in schools.
Both states have updated the health curriculum for elementary, middle, and high schools to include mental health education. Mental health is an important part of overall health and should be apart of the education in schools.
Both states laws came into effect in June amid a recent increased focus on mental health and suicide.
Time and time again we read the news that someone has taken their own life. Suicide has always been a problem for years, however, it’s mostly due to the lack of mental health education and services in communities. Many mental health professionals believe that its the lack of proper knowledge and skills and this starts an individual down a dark path.
I believe that early mental health education can decrease the number of individuals that may consider suicide. Depression is an illness, that can’t be cured, however, it can be managed with the proper skills, education and sometimes medication.
The Virginia law mandates the state’s Board of Education update the health Standards of Learning with mental health material for ninth and 10th grades.
The New York law does not mandate a specific curriculum; it instead updates the health curriculum to include mental health in its definition and purview.
Under the new law, health education in the state “must recognize the multiple dimensions of health and include the relationship between physical and mental health,” according to the New York State Department of Education.