This is an unprecedented day in the history of public awareness about
mental health and public education in New York State. This landmark
legislation that led New York State to be the first in the nation to create
a mandate for mental health** education** in schools is operational as of
today. For information about the new law, resources and implementation,
please go to the MHANYS site dedicated to the School Mental Health
Resource and Training Center, www.mentalhealthednys.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New State Law Ensures Mental Health Education in Schools
This first-in-nation law takes effect July 1
Mental Health Association in New York State prepares resource and training
center to help school districts teach mental health to students
ALBANY, N.Y.; JULY 2, 2018—A new state law that will ensure mental health
education is provided in classrooms across New York State goes into effect
July 1, 2018, the Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.
(MHANYS) announced today.
MHANYS led a persistent, five-year legislative advocacy effort that rallied
mental health professionals and advocates in communities across the state
in order to urge lawmakers to approve the legislation, which Governor
Andrew Cuomo signed into law in September 2016.
“This groundbreaking law lays the path to better health for all New
Yorkers,” said Glenn Liebman, CEO of MHANYS. “While first starting in
schools, we believe that ultimately this law will have a far-reaching
effect for communities across New York State.”
This first-in-nation law requires that all elementary, middle and high
schools in New York State now include mental health, as part of existing
physical health instruction, in their education curriculum. It will advance
the movement to expand mental health literacy among young people statewide.
By emphasizing mental health literacy, schools can prepare students with
lifelong skills to understand mental health and wellness and increase their
awareness of when and how to access treatment or support for themselves or
“Unrecognized, untreated and late-treated mental illness elevates the risk
of mental health crises such as suicide and self-injury. Early treatment
enhances potential for recovery and also diminishes negative coping
behaviors such as substance abuse,” Liebman added. “Empowering young people
with knowledge will have a powerful impact in helping them protect and
preserve mental health and wellness for themselves and their peers.”
Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness.
Additionally, about half of all chronic mental health conditions begin by
age 14, half of all cases of anxiety disorders begin as early as age 8, and
about 22 percent of youth aged 13-18 experience serious mental disorders in
a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
NYS Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “By
introducing mental health education at age appropriate levels from
elementary through high school, mental health will be normalized just as
physical health is, stigma will be reduced and children and parents will
learn about prevention and when and how they should ask for help. Through
education, we can change people’s perception of mental illness, and
encourage future generations to ask for help if they’re feeling depressed
or anxious as easily as they ask for help for an injured leg or a sore
“The public is finally coming around to the notion that to properly address
mental health issues, we must first acknowledge and openly discuss them,”
said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “The Board of Regents,
the Education Department and I are fully committed to this effort. Together
with many partners across many disciplines we are working to promote mental
health literacy and awareness in New York’s schools. We will soon provide
our schools with resources – developed together with the NYS Office of
Mental Health and MHANYS – on mental health instruction that extends beyond
the classroom, to promote a climate of wellness that enhances the whole
child, the whole school and the whole community.”
New York’s law is the first in the nation to require mental health
instruction in schools, and many mental health professionals expect others
states to follow New York’s lead. Great interest has been generated across
the country in modeling New York’s legislation.
The new law enacts the mental health education requirement, but does not
mandate a specific curriculum. That’s why MHANYS is taking action to help
schools implement their own mental health curricula and serve as a resource
for ongoing support.
MHANYS will soon launch the School Mental Health Resource and Training
Center, which will be available to all public and private schools statewide
to help with effective implementation of the new law at the local level.
The Center, which is supported through grant funding from the New York
State Legislature and Governor, will provide assistance and guidance
through an online platform, a hotline for school districts and a team of
experts in education and mental health. Additionally, the Center will offer
mental health training for staff and help schools establish community
partnerships to meet the mental health needs of students and families.
Starting immediately, schools can contact the Mental Health Training and
Resource Center with questions or requests for assistance at
The School Mental Health Resource and Training Center’s website will be
live starting July 1 at www.mentalhealthednys.org, and its full services
will be launched later this summer. MHANYS is building its dedicated team
of experts to staff the Center and adding in-depth content to the online
platform, which will house lesson plans and information on mental health
resources and the new law. Further details about Center will be announced
in the coming weeks.
About Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.
The Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS) is a
nonprofit organization that works to end the stigma against mental illness
and promotes mental health wellness in New York State. MHANYS achieves this
through training, education, advocacy and policy, community-based
partnership programming, and by connecting individuals and families to
help. Following its successful efforts to secure approval of a law
requiring mental health instruction in schools, MHANYS is now establishing
the School Mental Health Resources and Training Center to facilitate
effective implementation of the new law. Across the state, MHANYS has 26
regional MHA affiliates that are active in 50 counties. For more
information, visit mhanys.org/.
Media Contact: John Mackowiak
716-785-5475 (mobile) | 518-618-1175 (office)