California Adds a Mental Health Curriculum Requirement in K-12

On Jan. 1, a new law took effect, mandating that the California Department of Education include mental health in state standards by Jan. 1, 2023. Districts must begin teaching the new curriculum by Jan. 1, 2024.

The law requires that middle and high school students learn the signs and symptoms of conditions such as depression, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The California law is a positive step forward, as students are likely going to face mental health fallout from the pandemic for years to come, said Hannah Wesolowski, chief advocacy officer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is a grassroots organization advocating for mental health services and research.

What’s unique about the California law is that it considers cultural factors in mental health, she said, including the consideration of LGBTQ students, who can face higher rates of suicide.

As some conversations begin to push back against the term “social-emotional learning” in schools, Wesolowski said it’s dangerous to politicize SEL and mental health efforts in schools.

“I think there is widespread agreement that our children’s mental health is suffering right now,” Wesolowski said. “We’re starting to see a tide shift, and I think state leaders are realizing that they have to do something. We’re all going to pay the price if we don’t address this children’s mental health epidemic.”

Excerpted from “Mental health curriculum mandates seek to destigmatize getting help” in K-12 DIVE. Read the full article online for additional details.

Source: K-12 DIVE | Mental health curriculum mandates seek to destigmatize getting help, | © 2022 Industry Dive

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