On March 16th, MHANYS held a summit bringing in mental health and education
experts to talk about how the recent signing of the mental health education
bill will be implemented. We had a great turn out highlighted by Education
Commissioner MaryEllen Elia’s keynote address where she discussed the
importance of the inclusion of mental health in schools. As you will see
from the summary below from MHANYS Public Policy Director, John Richter,
there were several important points addressed throughout the day.
Aside from the summary, we have also attached John’s power point
highlighting the history of mental health education in New York State as
well as the fundamental principles of the legislation. Also, we have
attached the follow up news story from Albany’s Talk 1300 AM Radio Station.
We had thoughtful and intelligent speakers throughout the day and a broad
discussion of how to implement broad based mental health coverage in New
York’s schools. It is clear from everyone in attendance that there is both
overwhelming support and an overwhelming need for mental health education
in schools. Mental Health Education is a significant first step but we must
do a lot more to garner the necessary resources for all the youth impacted
by mental illness.
If you want to get more involved in our efforts to support mental health in
schools, please contact John Richter at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, I want to acknowledge the great work of the MHANYS staff
especially John Richter and Amy Molloy, MHANY Director of Education for
their leadership in making the day such a success.
MHANYS Mental Health Education in Schools Summit a Success
New York education stakeholders and mental health advocates joined together
at Albany Law School in Albany, New York on March 16, 2017 over newly
passed legislation that will require all New York schools to begin teaching
about mental health beginning in July of 2018. The *Mental Health
Education in Schools Summit *was hosted by the Mental Health Association in
New York State, Inc. (MHANYS) and filled a lecture hall to capacity. The
Summit marks the first time educators and mental health advocates heard the
state’s plan for implementing the new law since it was signed by Governor
Andrew Cuomo back in September of 2016. MHANYS, with the help of
grassroots mental health advocates, tirelessly fought for the passage of
the new law for the past five years.
The event kicked off with a welcome from MHANYS CEO Glenn Liebman and a
presentation by Public Policy Director John Richter that traced the history
of the mental hygiene movement and its influence in advancing mental health
literacy. The event represents a rare occasion where an audience of
educators and mental health professionals heard presentations by officials
from the two relevant state agencies: the State Education Department (SED)
and the Office of Mental Health (OMH). SED Commissioner MaryEllen Elia,
shed light on the state’s plan for implementing the new law and Donna
Bradbury, Associate Commissioner of OMH, offered a children’s mental health
perspective to the discussion.
A panel of educators and MHA affiliates who have been teaching about mental
health and suicide prevention since long before advocacy efforts led to the
passage of the new law shared their experiences. The panelists addressed
some of the challenges, resistance and successes of introducing mental
health education as a topic in school health classes. After the panelists
presented, a period of questions and answers revealed an audience that was
highly engaged, curious about implementation steps and clearly concerned
with the mental health needs of their students. If there were any
misgivings about the extra demands the new law might place on educators, it
was not evident by their responses to the panelists.
MHANYS set aside a portion of the day’s event to allow three high school
students to share their personal stories about their own mental health
challenges. The students testified to the importance of mental health
education in schools. Their presentations, which were heart-felt and at
times emotional, provided a poignant reminder to all in attendance of why
this issue is so critical and provided a refreshing human element to a day.
The event concluded with a presentation created by MHANYS policy and
education staff that outlined the association’s recommendations for the
development of mental health curricula. A set of recommended guiding
principles and curriculum elements was shared with the audience. The
recommendations reflect the vision for mental health education in schools
that was central to MHANYS advocacy efforts with legislators.
MHANYS is developing a white paper on the new law and the implementation
process that will include the guiding principles and curriculum elements as
well as feedback received during and post-summit. The report is expected
to be completed sometime this spring.