The Governor Signed the Landmark Mental Health Education Bill into Law!
This landmark legislation means that when middle schools and high schools teach about health (which they are mandated to do), they will also have to teach about mental health. Currently schools must teach about alcohol and substance abuse and some cancer screenings. Now, mental health has been added to that small list and that is a great victory for all New Yorkers. While some schools already teach about mental health, many do not. This will all change with the signing of this legislation.
This new law will have a major impact in high schools and middle schools. Over half of all individuals with mental health issues begin experiencing symptoms at age fourteen. Too often the signs are missed and young people will go without treatment for years, which impacts them academically, increases the likelihood of abusing alcohol and drugs, getting into legal trouble and in some cases tragically losing their lives to suicide completion. Mental health education in schools will impact youth in a positive way by providing them with knowledge about mental health so they can recognize signs in themselves and others when help is needed. Also, mental health education in schools will provide a greater understanding of these issues and will help reduce stigma and play a role in educating youth about suicide prevention.
Judy Ritterman, LMHC, NCC
New York Mental Health Counselors Association