New Law Makes Mental Health A Mandatory Education In Elementary, Middle, And High Schools Across New York

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A measure was passed in 2016, where it was signed into law for New York state to require educating students on mental health in the traditional physical education classes. Today, two years later, this law is finally taking effect. Henceforth, it is now mandatory for all schools in the state to teach emotional and mental health classes. These lessons will not be restricted to a certain grade level; this important information will be given to children from elementary school all the way through the high school experience, reports CNY Central.

Those in support of this new law believe that by helping students better understand mental health, they may know when to seek help for themselves and others. Information on emotional and mental well-being has a chance to prevent later substance abuse, as well as unfortunate suicides. Chief executive over at the Mental Health Association of New York State, Glenn Liebman, refers to this new law by calling it “groundbreaking.” Indeed, this law could potentially help solve a giant issue being faced by the United States. Although, we are not alone in having a suicide crisis. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 800,000 people die due to suicide each year. This equates to one person every 40 seconds, globally. Such alarming figures do not exclude younger people. In fact, WHO deems suicide as the second leading cause of death among those aged between 15-29.

An even more shocking rate is the sky-rocketing numbers being seen by researchers looking at youth between the ages of 10- to 17-years-old. USA Today cited a 70 to 77 percent increase as the latest data analysis from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention between the years 2006 and 2016. Life for these teens can feel so traumatic that they are sadly looking to suicide as their best option. What’s the true cause behind these soaring figures?

Experts and some teens have reported plausible reasons being linked to spotty mental health screenings, poor access to mental health services, as well as resistance among younger people to admit having a problem and seek out help. To add to the problem, well documented societal issues also seem to be at play. Opioid addicted parents, the polarization of the political environment, and poverty combined with record low unemployment are also believed by these experts and teens to be at fault, according to USA Today.

Activists March Across Brooklyn Bridge
Many argue that mental health is one of the biggest issues amid the gun control discussion in America. Here, participants with One Million Moms for Gun Control, a gun control group formed in the wake of last month's massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, attend a rally and march across the Brooklyn Bridge on January 21, 2013 in New York City.Featured image credit: Spencer PlattGetty Images

Liebman believes that this new law, the first of its kind in the nation, will forge a path to better health for all New Yorkers. Perhaps the law will serve as a leading example for what is a devastating issue in this nation. Time will tell.

“While first starting in schools, we believe that ultimately this law will have a far-reaching effect for communities across New York state.”

The State Education Department says it will soon give guidance to schools on how to incorporate these mental health lessons into their curriculum. The Mental Health Association has not mandated a specific curriculum to this now required education, but they have received a $1 million state grant to develop the school Mental Health Resource and Training Center which will serve as a clearinghouse to New York schools on how to properly develop mental health lessons.