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New York Will Be The First State To Require Students To Learn About Mental Health In Its Schools

By Kenza Moller

When it comes to mental health, there’s still far too much miseducation and stigma around the issue—and those invisible barriers continue to create very real challenges for people when it comes to getting help. Fortunately, one state is enlightening its citizens by starting with kids. Beginning July 1, New York will become the first state to require mental health education be taught in all its schools.

Starting next September, the health curriculum for elementary, middle and high school students in New York will need to include a mental health component. According to Albany’s Times Union, local districts will be in charge of creating their own curriculum, but will receive oversight from the Mental Health Association of New York State, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Education.

According to the World Health Organization, one in four people will experience mental or neurological disorders during their lifetime. And while effective treatments exist, two-thirds of those with a mental illness will never seek help from professionals.

New York’s new mental health education plan is expected to teach students to recognize signs of mental illness, whether in themselves or in friends and family. They’ll also learn about the help available for people dealing with mental illness and how to gain access to it.

“Frankly, we need this and we need it more than ever I believe,” Karl Shallowhorn, a board member of the Mental Health Association of New York State, told Buffalo’s WGRZ-TV. “Students will be more knowledgeable, and so will their teachers, about what to look for if a person is in need of help … it will also normalize the topic of mental health.”

Making mental health a regular part of children’s discussions around health is a step forward in raising a generation that’s able to name, discuss and get help for mental health issues without feeling ashamed of the topic.

Do you think the topic of mental health should be a mandated part of children’s regular school curriculum?

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