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Future Health

Mental Illness Education

July 9, 2018 

New York and Virginia are hopefully starting a trend by mandating mental health education laws in their schools.


We read about celebrity suicides in the news, but we never hear about the average, everyday citizen struggling with depression. It’s all too common that someone who suffers from mental illness is not able to identify the signs and symptoms to get help. In fact, 22% of children aged 13 – 18 experience a serious mental disorder in a given year. What’s even more troubling is that one in 12 high school students have attempted suicide.


Thankfully, a few states are trying to combat this issue. The Mental Health Association of New York, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Education, will soon be overseeing New York schools’ curriculum on mental health. On July 1, 2018, it became law that schools in New York must add mental health education to their curriculum. Virginia has also passed the same law and will teach its students about mental health as well.


Here is a sample of the expected curriculum:

  • self-care and personal responsibility for one’s own mental health
  • making mental health an integral part of overall health
  • recognizing the signs and symptoms of developing mental health problems
  • managing mental health crises such as suicide and self-harm
  • relationship between mental health, substance abuse and other negative coping behaviors
  • how negative cultural attitudes impact people seeking treatment and contribute to discrimination against those with mental illnesses
  • recovery from mental illness
  • identifying appropriate professionals, services and family supports for treating mental illness


The addition of this information comes in the wake of an uptick in reports of major depressive episodes in school-aged children. School officials are hoping that teaching students (and teachers) how to identify or even prevent these symptoms will help overall.