New state mental health in schools law takes effect

Jul 2, 2018

A new state law is taking effect in New York that requires schools to teach mental health to students in elementary, middle and high school.

The measure was passed and signed into law in 2016 and took effect Sunday.

It requires schools to include teaching about mental health in traditional physical education and health classes. The mandate is intended to help students understand more about emotional and mental wellness, and help them understand when to seek help for themselves or others.

Supporters say that the law could help prevent later substance abuse and suicides by giving students important information about mental well-being.

Glenn Liebman, chief executive of the Mental Health Association of New York State, calls the new law groundbreaking.

In April, he told WBFO News that he was pleased state lawmakers approved funding to create a resource center for training and implementation to help schools develop mental health curriculums.

“The concerns we brought up was that right now there’s no real funding behind it – it’s a great law and it’s laudable and we’re excited to see how it plays out in schools, but there is a lot of misinformation out mental health," he said. "There’s no mandated curriculum about mental health, so we wanted to go in and have ability to talk with schools about how to go ahead and start implementing about mental health teaching in schools.”