Yesterday was the annual MHANYS Educational Conference. Among the many
highlights was the session dedicated to the implementation of the new
mental health law in schools. The panel of experts featured Commissioner
Sullivan of OMH, Commissioner Elia of the State Education Department, Tim
Kremer, the Director of the School Boards Association, Bill Gettman, the
Director of Northern Rivers and John Richter, MHANYS Director of Public

Listed below is an article from Politico about the event.

We will also soon be releasing the MHANYS White Paper on Mental Health in

State officials eager for mental health education in schools

By Nick Niedzwiadek

10/19/2017 06:11 PM EDT

COLONIE — Mandating mental health education for K-12 students is a key part
of changing attitudes around the issue, leaders of the state’s mental
health and education departments said Thursday.

Starting next July, schools will have to include a mental health and mental
illness component in their health education curricula under a law signed by
Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year.

Speaking at a panel hosted by the Mental Health Association in New York
State, state Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said the
change will improve academic performance and help save lives.

“By ensuring young people are educated about mental health, we increase the
likelihood they’ll be able to effectively recognize signs and symptoms in
themselves and others, including family members, and get the right help,”
she said.

She cited successes at community schools, which provide high-need students
with support services like health care, as a reason to believe mental
health education will prove beneficial.

The state has mandated health education for decades, and currently requires
schools to teach about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, as well as cancer
prevention and detection.

Ann Marie Sullivan, commissioner of the Office of Mental Health, said the
ultimate payoff will come in a generation, when the new curriculum becomes

“They’re going to see mental health differently,” Sullivan said. “They are
going to see it as something they’ve learned about, something that they can
access help for and … they know what to do about it.”

The actual curriculum will be crafted by the schools themselves, but the
Education Department is working on regulations that will guide those plans
and has convened an advisory committee to help hash them out.

“It’s bigger than just the curriculum,” Sullivan said. “It’s really the
whole culture of the school.”

Tim Kremer, executive director of the state School Boards Association, said
the organization is generally averse to state-imposed mandates on what
schools should teach but this addition will help combat the rising number
of teens with anxiety disorders.

“There’s a lot of kids that need help,” he said at the panel.

Increased student awareness of mental health issues could also bolster
demand for such services in schools, likely requiring additional funding to
assist cash-strapped schools.

More than half of New York’s superintendents consider increasing mental
health services for students a top funding priority, according to a survey

last week by the New York State Council of School Superintendents. But
nearly as many said their school’s capacity to deliver non-academic
services was a significant problem, according to the same survey.

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