A recent study by TODAY found at least 20 U.S. states currently include mental health in their general K-12 health education standards, nine of which are written into curriculum by law. In addition, three more states have proposed new legislation to include this new requirement.
An excellent interactive map showing each state’s status regarding mental health standards can be found here.
In recent years, New York signed into law Bill A3887B to include mental health education as part of health education across all grade levels. This new legislation aims at increasing awareness; teaching students how to advocate for themselves and their peers. As students learn more social and emotional skills, these states hope to incorporate mental health into their curriculum as a way to show how health education and social and emotional skills fit together. With an increase in children diagnosed in the US with anxiety or depression, teachers and students alike believe mental health is just as important as all other aspects of health issues so incorporating this curriculum into their daily lives helps students succeed in the long run.
In Virginia, there is a law that requires mental health education in 9th and 10th grades. The state hopes to expand the requirement to include kindergarten through the 10th grade. The proposed standards are designed to be incorporated into existing standards for social and emotional health, said Vanessa Wigand, coordinator for K-12 health education, driver education and physical education for the Virginia Department of Education. They include age-appropriate instructional practices targeted at reducing stigma and explaining how to maintain good mental health, understand mental health disorders, pick up on signs and symptoms of distress, and seek help.
At EdGate we currently offer Health and PE standards, as well as Social and Emotional standards in our repository. Contact us for more details.
By: Sharla Schuller