New York Schools Mandated to Teach Mental Health

A new law went into effect this summer that impacts elementary, middle, and high schools in New York State this fall.

Specifically the law states:

All schools under the jurisdiction of the department shall ensure that their health education programs recognize the multiple dimensions of health by including mental health and the relation of physical and mental health so as to enhance student understanding, attitudes and behaviors that promote health, well-being and human dignity.

NBC News reports:

The law gives the latitude to individual districts, schools and classrooms to decide, as long as they meet some broad parameters, how to design curricula and lesson plans that cover mental health (as is the case for all subjects — including alcohol, drug and tobacco abuse and the prevention and detection of certain cancers, the only two other topics included in the education law that are required to be taught as part of health education in the state of New York).

But New York schools aren’t exactly being left on their own to figure out how to add mental health education to their teaching agendas.

After the changes to the law were passed in 2016, the New York State Education Department, along with the New York State Office of Mental Health and the Mental Health Association of New York State, Inc. (MHANYS), established the New York State Mental Health Education Advisory Council in August 2017 to provide guidance to schools on how to add mental health to the curricula.

The New York State Education Department in July released a comprehensive guide for schools. 

In that framework included the state’s framework for mental health instruction for schools to use as they develop their curriculum. You can read below:

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Having worked with high-risk children and youth for a better part of two decades I understand, probably more than most, mental health issues that exist among children and adolescents. 

I can also see this going wrong any number of ways that include an erosion of parental rights and consent.

Schools are academic institutions, not mental health resource centers.

Are you a parent in New York State? Have you seen the impact of this law in your child’s school?