New York State requires mental health education

Tim Goral, www.districtadministration.com,12/21/2017

The new New York curriculum will help students and teachers recognize the
signs of a potential problem, and reduce the associated stigma.

Most states have laws mandating health education in primary and secondary
schools, but New York will be the first to emphasize mental health
instruction for all grades. The move follows legislation signed into law in
2016 and slated to take effect in July 2018, in time for the new school
year.

While teen angst has long been considered part of growing up, mental health
officials have noted a disturbing increase in the percentage of young
people who have reported having a major depressive episode.

The first signs of mental health problems begin, on average, at about 14
years old, yet the average age that individuals seek help is 24. School-age
children are particularly vulnerable, with 8 percent of students nationwide
having attempted suicide in the past six months, according to the Mental
Health Association in New York State.

Moreover, 60 percent of high school students who have a mental illness do
not graduate from high school.

*Mental health not emphasized*

Mental health education had already been part of the New York’s curriculum,
but it had been lumped into the category of “other required health areas.”

“As a general rule, many schools throughout New York state are not teaching
students about mental health even though the regulatory definition
recognizes it as part of health education,” says John Richter, director of
public policy at the Mental Health Association in New York State.

As a result, he says, “The reality of when most mental illnesses begin is
obscured from our view because most of us don’t recognize the signs and
symptoms when they appear, ignore them, or mistakenly confuse them with
other characteristics of adolescence, such as changes associated with
puberty.”

Recognizing signs

The new curriculum will help students and teachers recognize the signs of a
potential problem, and reduce the associated stigma. Although details are
still being finalized, core elements in New York’s mental health curriculum
are expected to include:

– self-care and personal responsibility for one’s own mental health
– making mental health an integral part of overall health
– recognizing the signs and symptoms of developing mental health problems
– managing mental health crises such as suicide and self-harm
– relationship between mental health, substance abuse and other negative
coping behaviors
– how negative cultural attitudes impact people seeking treatment and
contribute to discrimination against those with mental illnesses
– recovery from mental illness
– identifying appropriate professionals, services and family supports
for treating mental illness

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requires-mental-health-education

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