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Mental Health Education on the Rise

A current, and very alarming, issue that has emerged throughout the younger population in recent years has been mental illness, and a lack of support for treatment. One mode of change that our country has taken on involves the public school system’s ability to incorporate mental health education into its curriculum. As health education is required in most states, two in particular are taking the next step to introduce mental health instruction for various grades. Both New York and Virginia have implemented these new laws, New York influencing K-12th and Virginia 9th and 10th grade (Vestal).

After multiple celebrity deaths in the past few months, as well as mass school shootings, awareness has further been raised on mental illnesses and suicide prevention. The first act of change has been to catch these diseases earlier, naturally by involving school systems to teach students how they can recognize initial symptoms and react by seeking help. As the statistics continue climb even higher on this matter, agencies such as the Disease Control and Prevention believe that more states will follow this direction as well (Vestal). In addition to requiring mental health classes into the schools, states have also made a strong effort of “increasing funding for school counseling and integrating more health care professions onto school staff” (Vestal). In some areas, these individuals are also trained to detect signs of mental illness in students.

It’s been a long time coming for New York to reach its law-making goal, seven years to be exact (Vestal). But the state’s public school system is ready to tackle this public issue, while giving the school board leeway to develop the curriculum specifics. However, teachers are still encouraged to merge mental illness topics into everyday material whenever possible. A prominent motive for both schools is to ultimately reduce the stigma attached to mental health. Hopefully within the near future, more states will single out this movement, among other competing educational issues, and consider accelerating its legislative process. Mental health education could very well be the driving force to saving many lives.

Vestal, Christine. “States Begin Requiring Mental Health Education in Schools.” pjstar, 23 June 2018, http://www.pjstar.com/news/20180623/states-begin-requiring-mental-health-education-in-schools. Accessed 23 August 2018.

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