MHANYS continues our strong support for the bill that would provide mental
health first aid training to all New York State teachers.

Bill would mandate mental health awareness training for teachers

Written by Emily Demirjian, Gazette staff writer
on March 1, 2016

A new bill would require teachers to complete mental health education and
awareness courses to make them more knowledgeable about mental health
issues with their students.

Assemblyman Marcus Crespo and Sen. Jesse Hamilton proposed the new
legislation (S.6234/A.9299) because, they noted, children spend much of
their time in school, making it one of the most efficient ways to catch and
treat potential mental health problems.

The bill would require teachers to complete training every five years after
July 1, 2016, including best practices for the safe de-escalation of crisis
situations, and identifying signs and symptoms for the early stages of
mental illnesses, and situations that warrant notification of appropriate
school officials.

According to a study cited by Crespo and Hamilton, an estimated 20 percent
of students have a mental health problem. The lawmakers believe teachers
are in a unique position to easily identify mental health issues with their
students because they sometimes spend more time with students than their
parents.

New York State United Teachers is reviewing the bill. But, Carl Korn, a
spokesman for NYSUT, noted there are currently social workers, nurses, and
aids in the state’s schools who have extensive mental health training, so
the union is still analyzing the potential impact on teachers.

The Mental Health Association of New York State has endorsed this
legislation, stating that teachers don’t need to be clinicians and don’t
need to be diagnosing students, but instead need to be understanding of the
problems.

“The expectation will be that they recognize that a child is in a mental
health crisis and they can refer them to appropriate services,” said Glenn
Liebman, chief executive officer of the Mental Health Association.

If this bill passes it would go into effect immediately.

Glenn Liebman, CEO

 

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