Florida public school will now be required to teach students at least 5 hours of mental health instruction, beginning in 6th grade. The state Board of Education approved a mandate and was hailed by Florida’s top educators as a “lifesaver.” In June, education officials proposed the change to the statewide school curriculum. This following discussion with First Lady Casey DeSantis, who made mental health issues one of her top priorities.
Under the new rule, students will be required to take courses that are aimed at helping them identify certain signs and symptoms of mental illness, teach them how to help peers who are suffering from mental health disorders and find resources if they are battling with depression. The 5-hour minimum will be included in the curriculum for grades 6 to 12, but it is still unclear if the classes will begin in the upcoming academic year.
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran released a statement noting, “We are going to reinvent school-based mental-health awareness in Florida, and we will be the number one state in the nation in terms of mental health outreach and school safety, all because of the governor’s and First Lady’s remarkable vision.”
Corcoran believes the new mandate is “the brainchild” of the First Lady, who has focused on crafting policies in regards to mental health and students. She has traveled throughout the state conducting listening sessions, where she has heard from parents and students about concerns with their mental and behavioral health. School districts will be able to choose which types of classes students will take. These include courses about suicide prevention, cyberbullying and the impact of substance abuse.
So, should these classes be required for all schools around the state? Absolutely. If you think about it, it would be good for all states to have more courses that focus on mental health. This can help students who don’t have the necessary tools or right resources, such as psychologists, guidance counselors or trained health professionals. This can surely save so many lives.