Information below is from MHANYS Public Policy Director, John Richter.
This is the next step in MHANYS advocacy around mental health education in
New Legislation Aims to Provide Teachers with Valuable Mental Health
In the Wake of the successful passage of the Mental Health Education in
Schools Bill, legislators are working toward the next step in the movement
to increase mental health literacy in schools. Senator Jesse Hamilton and
Assemblyman Marcus Crespo have introduced legislation (S.3550 and A.4004,
respectively) that would require teachers to complete a minimal number
training hours in mental health.
This legislation calls for teachers to complete the training at least twice
during the five-year certification registration period as part of the 100
hours of training currently required under State Education law . According
to the bill the training shall include programs and activities “related to
mental illness, eating disorders and behavioral health disorders”. The
type of training specified in the legislation would be “evidence based
training programs including, but not limited to, Mental Health First Aid or
core elements of such programs to the extent practicable”.
This legislation is critical for two reasons. First, a number of studies
have explored the crucial role that teachers can play with proper training,
as mental health assessors. This body of research begins with the premise
that teachers are ideally positioned to observe behavioral and
socio-emotional aspects of young people in a consistent classroom setting
over time. This vantage point allows teachers to see changes in patterns
of behavior and the development and early onset of symptoms. They can then
be a valuable link in helping students to get needed professional help.
Secondly, with the implementation of Mental Health Education in Schools
beginning in July of 2018, teachers are going to need some basic competency
and knowledge of mental health in order to successfully comply with the
teaching requirements under the new statute.
In the Senate, the legislation has already cleared two important hurdles;
the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee and the Rules
Committee. It is now ready to be voted on in the Senate. We hope to soon
have similar movement in the Assembly.
Much like all your previous successful advocacy, we will need you to let
your Senator and Assemblymember know that you support S.3550 and A.4004.
Both Assemblymember Crespo and Senator Hamilton have been invited to speak
at our Legislative Day to highlight this important issue. We hope that you
can attend Legislative Day on March 8th. You can register at www.mhanys.org
Glenn Liebman, CEO
Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.