MHANYS: New State Law Ensures Mental Health Education in Schools

NYAPRS News: NYAPRS would like to congratulate Glenn Liebman and his extraordinary team at the Mental Health Association New York (MHANYS) for their victory in getting the mental health education in schools legislation passed, signed and funded.  This is the first-in-nation law requiring all elementary, middle and high schools in New York State now include mental health, as part of existing physical health instruction, in their education curriculum. MHANYS received grant funding from NYS Legislature and the Governor to launch the School Mental Health Resource and Training Center.  The Center was created to support schools’ ability to comply with Chapter 390 of the Laws of 2016.  All elementary, middle, and high schools in the state must begin teaching about mental health as part of the school health curricula (The Center will focus primarily on helping schools identify resources, develop mental health curricula and provide guidance to support schools’ ability to comply with the required mental health education of students.  To further support the efforts of schools, the Center will provide mental health training for staff and provide schools with assistance in establishing community partnerships to meet the mental health services needs of students and families. Mental health should always be discussed openly and honestly, without stigma, humiliation, retaliatory action or fear   We have confidence that MHANYS will do their extreme best in this education process and  preserve the dignity and rights of students learning more than before about mental health and the role it has in whole health and wellness.  We will continue to share ongoing educational efforts as our friends at MHANYS do their part to ensure mental health education is provided in classrooms across New York State effective as of July 1, 2018. 

About Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.

The Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS) is a nonprofit organization that works to end the stigma against mental illness and promotes mental health wellness in New York State. MHANYS achieves this through training, education, advocacy and policy, community-based partnership programming, and by connecting individuals and families to help. Following its successful efforts to secure approval of a law requiring mental health instruction in schools, MHANYS is now establishing the School Mental Health Resources and Training Center to facilitate effective implementation of the new law. Across the state, MHANYS has 26 regional MHA affiliates that are active in 50 counties. For more information, visit https://mhanys.org/. The state's mental health association hopes this education will help end stigma and increase awareness. 

“This is an unprecedented day in the history of public awareness about mental health and public education in New York State. This landmark legislation that led New York State to be the first in the nation to create a mandate for mental health education in schools is operational as of today.  For information about the new law, resources and implementation, please go to the MHANYS site dedicated to the School Mental Health Resource and Training Center, www.mentalhealthednys.org



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New State Law Ensures Mental Health Education in Schools

This first-in-nation law takes effect July 1

Mental Health Association in New York State prepares resource and training center to help school districts teach mental health to students

ALBANY, N.Y.; JULY 2, 2018—A new state law that will ensure mental health education is provided in classrooms across New York State goes into effect July 1, 2018, the Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS) announced today.

MHANYS led a persistent, five-year legislative advocacy effort that rallied mental health professionals and advocates in communities across the state in order to urge lawmakers to approve the legislation, which Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law in September 2016.

“This groundbreaking law lays the path to better health for all New Yorkers,” said Glenn Liebman, CEO of MHANYS. “While first starting in schools, we believe that ultimately this law will have a far-reaching effect for communities across New York State.”

This first-in-nation law requires that all elementary, middle and high schools in New York State now include mental health, as part of existing physical health instruction, in their education curriculum. It will advance the movement to expand mental health literacy among young people statewide.

By emphasizing mental health literacy, schools can prepare students with lifelong skills to understand mental health and wellness and increase their awareness of when and how to access treatment or support for themselves or others.

“Unrecognized, untreated and late-treated mental illness elevates the risk of mental health crises such as suicide and self-injury. Early treatment enhances potential for recovery and also diminishes negative coping behaviors such as substance abuse,” Liebman added. “Empowering young people with knowledge will have a powerful impact in helping them protect and preserve mental health and wellness for themselves and their peers.”

Approximately one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. Additionally, about half of all chronic mental health conditions begin by age 14, half of all cases of anxiety disorders begin as early as age 8, and about 22 percent of youth aged 13-18 experience serious mental disorders in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

NYS Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “By introducing mental health education at age appropriate levels from elementary through high school, mental health will be normalized just as physical health is, stigma will be reduced and children and parents will learn about prevention and when and how they should ask for help. Through education, we can change people’s perception of mental illness, and encourage future generations to ask for help if they’re feeling depressed or anxious as easily as they ask for help for an injured leg or a sore throat.”

“The public is finally coming around to the notion that to properly address mental health issues, we must first acknowledge and openly discuss them,” said State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “The Board of Regents, the Education Department and I are fully committed to this effort. Together with many partners across many disciplines we are working to promote mental health literacy and awareness in New York’s schools. We will soon provide our schools with resources – developed together with the NYS Office of Mental Health and MHANYS – on mental health instruction that extends beyond the classroom, to promote a climate of wellness that enhances the whole child, the whole school and the whole community.”

New York’s law is the first in the nation to require mental health instruction in schools, and many mental health professionals expect others states to follow New York’s lead. Great interest has been generated across the country in modeling New York’s legislation.

The new law enacts the mental health education requirement, but does not mandate a specific curriculum. That’s why MHANYS is taking action to help schools implement their own mental health curricula and serve as a resource for ongoing support.

MHANYS will soon launch the School Mental Health Resource and Training Center, which will be available to all public and private schools statewide to help with effective implementation of the new law at the local level. 

The Center, which is supported through grant funding from the New York State Legislature and Governor, will provide assistance and guidance through an online platform, a hotline for school districts and a team of experts in education and mental health. Additionally, the Center will offer mental health training for staff and help schools establish community partnerships to meet the mental health needs of students and families. Starting immediately, schools can contact the Mental Health Training and Resource Center with questions or requests for assistance at schools@mhanys.org.

The School Mental Health Resource and Training Center’s website will be live starting July 1 at www.mentalhealthednys.org, and its full services will be launched later this summer. MHANYS is building its dedicated team of experts to staff the Center and adding in-depth content to the online platform, which will house lesson plans and information on mental health resources and the new law. Further details about Center will be announced in the coming weeks.

Coming to New York classrooms: Lessons on mental health

Joseph Spector, Albany Bureau, June 29, 2018

ALBANY - When students return to school this fall, there will be a new lesson for them to learn: how to deal with mental-health issues.

A state law adopted in 2016 goes into effect July 1 that requires school districts to provide mental-health education as part of its health courses.

Mental-health groups and lawmakers pushed for years to make the measure law, saying students in elementary through high school should get a better understanding of the aspects of mental health.

Gov Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law in September 2016. 

“This groundbreaking law lays the path to better health for all New Yorkers,” said Glenn Liebman, CEO of the Mental Health Association in New York State.

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

Advocates said the new law is the first of its kind in the nation and will help students better understand mental health, how to recognize problems they or others are facing and how to get treatment.

The state Education Department said it will soon provide schools with guidance on how to incorporate lessons on mental health into their curriculum, said MaryElla Elia, the state education commissioner.

“The public is finally coming around to the notion that to properly address mental health issues, we must first acknowledge and openly discuss them,” Elia said in a statement provided by the Mental Health Association.

Supporters of the law noted that one in five adults in the U.S. are believed to be afflicted with mental illness, and about half of the cases start during a person's teenage years, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

The new law requires mental-health education, but does not mandate specific curriculum, according to the Mental Health Association.

So the non-profit group received a $1 million state grant to develop the School Mental Health Resource and Training Center that will serve as a clearinghouse for schools on how to develop mental-health lessons.

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2018/06/29/coming-new-york-classrooms-lessons-mental-health/746460002/

Teachers mandated to add mental health training to curriculum

By Vince Briga  |  June 27, 2018

ENDWELL, N.Y. It's a topic that's at the forefront of the nation's conversation.

The issue of mental health among students has been debated, but New York is taking action. Starting July 1st, all health teachers in the state are mandated to add mental health education to their curriculum. "If you can get as much information to the youth and to kids and to teachers, then the chances are that there's going to be much more of an ability to seek treatment if you need treatment or just to find more information about mental health in general," said Glenn Liebman New York State Mental Health Association CEO. Students in grades K through 12 will be taught about the warning signs and what to do if they experience any mental health issues.  "We're not trying to really dig deep. It's not psychology 101 or anything like that, it's just a basic knowledge about mental health, about anxiety and depression and suicide prevention," said Liebman.

With teen suicide rates spiking, mental health experts say it's important to get this message out early on. "The sooner we're able to identify an individual who may be struggling, the better off we're going to be able to help them to lead healthy productive lives," said Keith Leahey, Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier Executive Director. The state's mental health association hopes this education will help end stigma and increase awareness.  "If they have questions they can go to a mental health professional in the school, a teacher, a close friend, someone who they can confide in about their mental health issues,” said Liebman.

New York becomes the first state in the nation to pass such a law. The state of Virginia also passed a similar law, requiring 9th and 10th grade teachers to add mental health to their curriculum.

http://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/binghamton/news/2018/06/27/mental-health-education


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Stateline Article June 15, 2018

By: Christine Vestal Topics: Health & Education  

Amid sharply rising rates of teen suicide and adolescent mental illness, two states have enacted laws that for the first time require public schools to include mental health education in their basic curriculum.

Most states require health education in all public schools, and state laws have been enacted in many states to require health teachers to include lessons on tobacco, drugs and alcohol, cancer detection and safe sex.

Two states are going further: New York’s new law adds mental health instruction to the list in kindergarten through 12th grade; Virginia requires it in ninth and 10th grades.

Nationwide, cities and states have been adopting a variety of initiatives over the past decade to address the rising need for mental health care in schools.

But until this year, mandated mental health education had not been part of the trend.

“We’re seeing a huge increase in youth anxiety and depression,” said Dustin Verga, a high school health teacher in Clifton, New York, who was an early advocate for the state’s new law.

“We teach them how to detect the signs of cancer and how to avoid accidents, but we don’t teach them how to recognize the symptoms of mental illness,” Verga said. “It’s a shame because, like cancer, mental health treatment is much more effective if the disease is caught early.”

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month shows the U.S. suicide rate rose by a quarter between 1999 and 2016. That and two celebrity deaths this month — those of fashion designer Kate Spade, 55, and chef Anthony Bourdain, 61 — have raised the nation’s consciousness about depression and suicide prevention.

But mental illness can set in much earlier than adulthood. More than half of lifetime mental illnesses begin before age 14, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Yet the average person waits 10 years after the first symptoms occur before getting treatment.

Nearly 9 percent of youth in grades nine through 12 said that they attempted suicide in the past year.

By educating children of all ages about mental health, the hope is that they will learn how to recognize early symptoms in themselves and their friends and seek help before a crisis develops, said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America, a nonprofit that advocates for better mental health care.

“People are talking more about youth mental health and the effects of trauma on kids, but it’s taken a long time to get traction. I think what we’ve seen recently in terms of school shootings is spurring this,” Gionfriddo said. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see a number of states go in the same direction over the next few years,” he said, referring to New York and Virginia.

The rate of adolescents experiencing major depression surged nearly 40 percent from 2005 to 2014, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, rising to an estimated 2.2 million depressed children ages 12 to 17, according to the most recent federal data.

Teen suicides also have spiked. According to the CDC, the suicide rate among boys ages 15 to 19 increased by nearly a third between 2007 and 2015; the suicide rate among girls the same age more than doubled. 

But that only accounts for the deaths. Nearly 9 percent of youths in grades nine through 12 attempted suicide in the past year, according to the CDC’s 2015 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey.

In response, many states have increased funding for school counseling and added psychologists to their health staffs. Others are thinking of doing the same. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this month recommended adding more counselors to schools following a mass shooting at a Santa Fe school. His is one of 20 states that don’t require school counselors. And most states have adopted so-called mental health first aid programs to train first responders, primary care physicians, teachers and other school personnel to detect the signs of mental illness and addiction and provide preventive measures including referral to treatment.

In addition, a slim majority of states mandate suicide prevention training for school personnel, and close to a dozen states require annual courses. More than a dozen states encourage and facilitate training, but do not require it.

Different Paths

In New York, it was a nonprofit mental health group that came up with the idea of requiring schools to educate students about mental illness in all grades. That was seven years ago.

The Legislature was immediately interested, said John Richter, the public policy director for the Mental Health Association in New York State Inc. “The problem was finding a way to cut in line ahead of dozens of other competing educational issues.”

It was the opioid crisis and its strong connection with mental illness that ultimately allowed the New York Assembly’s education committee to bring the mental health bill to a vote in 2016, Richter said. Armed with research showing that people with mental conditions often self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, the chairman found an eager audience of lawmakers who wanted to do everything they could to quell the overdose epidemic, he said.  

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people with a mood or anxiety disorder are more than twice as likely to develop an addiction to opioids and other drugs.

New York’s law doesn’t prescribe a specific classroom curriculum for mental health, leaving the details up to the board of education. But the state is giving $1 million a year to the mental health association to offer an online mental health resource center and free training services for teachers starting in July.

In the fall, New York public school teachers will be encouraged to incorporate the topic of mental illness into subjects such as science, literature, history and social studies whenever possible, according to Richter. And health teachers will be called on to develop lesson plans that describe the disease of mental illness, methods of treating it, and healthy coping techniques students can use to protect themselves and their friends from the mounting pressures of school life.

“The life students live today is very different from what it was just 10 years ago,” Clifton’s Verga said. “Technology and social media have taken over. Kids are getting cellphones at an earlier age and facing escalating academic expectations and standardized assessments starting in third grade.”

Leticia Jenkins teaches a ninth-grade health class. Two states now require health teachers to address rising rates of adolescent mental illness in their classrooms