New York & Virginia Became The First States To Require Mental Health Education In Their Curriculums

New York and Virginia are now the first states to create laws that require schools to incorporate mental health education into their curriculums. Both states enacted the laws on Sunday. 

According to Huffington Post, the New York legislation will have classrooms K through 12 include mental health material to update their health curriculums. Virginia’s law will take effect in the Fall and will incorporate mental health education into physical education and health curriculum for ninth and tenth graders, CNN reports. 

The New York law, which was reportedly written in 2015, doesn’t specify any additional curriculums, but instead clarifies that mental health falls under the range of topics based on the state’s health curriculum. 

“By ensuring that young people learn about mental health, we increase the likelihood that they will be able to more effectively recognize signs in themselves and others, including family members, and get the right help,” the Empire States law read. The aim of the law is to open up an important dialogue about mental health and to combat the stigma surrounding the topic. 

Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds, whose son died by suicide in 2013, sponsored his states mental health bill, after attending high schoolers presentations on ways to address mental health in schools. 

“I was impressed by their thoughtfulness, because a lot of these young people had seen bullying. They had seen depression. They had seen classmates that had died by suicide,” Deeds told CNN. “It’s part of tearing down the stigma and providing some equality with those that struggle with mental health.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates have significantly increased in almost every state. The CDC says suicide has become the 10th leading cause of death in the US and is the second leading causes on the rise.