A great interview on WGRZ in Buffalo with Karl Shallowhorn, of the MHA of
Erie County and a member of the MHANYS State board, talking about the
importance of mental health education in schools.
Mental health education required for New York students
Dave McKinley , WGRZ/8:25 AM. MST November 05, 2017
BUFFALO, NY – Beginning next year, elementary, middle and high schools in
New York state will be required to include mental health education in the
“New York State is the first state in the country to do this and I think
that’s phenomenal. We are taking the lead and setting an example on what to
do and how to help these young people,” said Karl Shallowhorn, director of
community advocacy for the Mental Health Association of Erie County
Shallowhorn also serves on the board of the Mental Health Association of
New York State, which pushed for legislation to require mental health
education, and is now working with the NY State Department of Education to
develop the curriculum.
“Frankly, we need this and we need it more than ever I believe,”
It is estimated that one in five people live with some sort of mental
disorder or disease.
Further, according to the state Mental Health Association, the average age
of early signs of mental illness is 14.
However, the average age that individuals seek help is 24.
That’s 10 years during the most formative years of any person’s life.
Moreover, 60 percent of high school students who have a mental illness do
“We want to get help to people early so that with earlier intervention we
can have a more positive outcome,” Shallowhorn said. “Students will be more
knowledgeable, and so will their teachers, about what to look for if a
person is in need of help. They’ll be able to know what the resources are,
and by having it as part of the curriculum, it will also normalize the
topic of mental health.”
Translation: If you’re teaching kids about leading a healthy lifestyle and
avoiding risky behavior or the illnesses that can impact same, then why not
teach them about this?
“Mental health is something we should able to discuss just like any other
health issue, whether it be diabetes or cancer or whatever,” Shallowhorn
According to Shallowhorn, the goal — like in many other curricula — is
for the state to issue guidelines and then leave it up to schools on how
best to meet them.
Although, much like many other topics taught in health class in particular,
the aim of the guidelines will be to ensure that at all times the
information shared is age appropriate.