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Mental Health Update

July 24, 2019
Mental Health Update

MH Update – 7/24/19 – Florida Becomes Third State to Require Mental Health Instruction in Schools

We are very pleased to see Florida joining NY and Virginia in mandating mental health education in schools. In the last few weeks, New Jersey passed a bill waiting for the Governor’s signature and MHANYS Public Policy Director, John Richter, worked with our colleagues in Massachusetts in testifying before their legislature in support of mental health instruction in schools. MHANYS is committed to working with colleagues across the country to insure that this becomes a national law.

Florida will require mental health education for students in sixth grade and above

By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN

Updated 7:31 PM ET, Thu July 18, 2019

Students from sixth grade to twelfth grade will be required to take 5 hours of the course annually.

(CNN)Florida will become the third state in the US to require students to learn more about mental health, behind Virginia and New York.

The Florida State Board of Education voted on Wednesday to require public schools to provide students in grades six and above a minimum of five hours of mental health education annually.

The announcement comes as studies reveal more about how screen time and social media impacts teenagers mentally.

According to the department’s press release, the curriculum will include: awareness of signs and symptoms, the process for getting or seeking help for themselves or others, awareness of resources and what to do or say to peers struggling with mental health disorders.

Partnering with the First Lady

“This is just the beginning. It’s no secret that mental illness robs students of the ability to reach their full potential, and we are joining forces to combat this disease and give our students the tools they need to thrive,” Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said.

The mandate is in partnership with Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis’ initiative Hope for Healing Florida, which is a website that compiles mental health resources for students and parents.

“Prevention is critical in dealing with these issues, and empowering our students with information… can help those in need receive meaningful help and positive outcomes through effective treatment,” DeSantis said in a statement to CNN.

Not all of the details are clear

Comments on the department’s social media post about the announcement have been mixed, as the department did not specify a start date or who will be teaching the material.

Funds for the program will come from $75 million Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis allocated to the Mental Health Assistance Allocation for Florida schools in his 2020 budget.