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In 2016, New York state legislation signed into law a requirement for all elementary, junior high and high schools in the state to teach about mental health.

This week is the first week the law takes effect.

The decision amended Section 804 of the NYS Education Law, which states: “All schools shall include, as an integral part of health education, instruction so as to discourage the misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs and promote attitudes and behavior that enhance health, well being, and human dignity.”

The addition to Section 804 reads: ”All schools 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.” The legislation’s goal is to reduce the stigma of mental health issues, to help students recognize issues in regard to themselves and others, and to provide knowledge about how and where to seek help.

New York is the first state to require mental health education as separate instruction.

Lamar Green

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