As a much-needed step in the direction of removing the stigma associated with mental disorders, elementary, middle and high schools across New York will be required to include mental health education in their health curriculum, effective July 1, 2018. After years of tireless legislative backing by the Mental Health Association in New York State (MHANYS), a nonprofit, New York lawmakers have finally responded to the call. The initiative would make New York the first state in the U.S. to impart mental health education in schools.
The proposed mental health curriculum will cover a wide range of areas, endeavor to reframe the illness as ‘integral’ to one’s overall health and help students obtain the right tools to enable them to cope with the disorder on their own. If successful in New York, the program would enable other states to follow suit.
A serious medical condition, mental disorders affect approximately one in five adults in the United States in a year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly one in every 25 American adult experiences a mental disorder so severe that it affects their ability to undertake daily chores. With such a high prevalence of mental illnesses, it becomes imperative that programs, like the above, are incorporated at the earliest.
Need for mental health education
According to the advocates of the movement, adding mental health literacy to the school curriculum would provide the younger generation with the knowledge to prevent, recognize the symptoms of, deal with and support others dealing with mental disorders. In addition to empowering youth, early access to mental health education would help fight the misconceptions about mental illnesses, lower the stigma surrounding it and encourage people to seek timely professional help.
Though the schools have long been talking about physical health, it was time that they started talking about other aspects of health, including public health issues like alcohol and drug abuse and mental health issues like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This would help children learn to identify the early warning signs of mental illnesses and help them be involved in ‘gainful activities’ like college or employment after finishing primary education with confidence.
Given the era of jam-packed schedules, the stress to perform well in education and sports and the pressure to portray a picture-perfect life, both online and offline, experts feel that today’s youth need more than just basic education as part of their school curriculum. With the first warning signs of mental disorders appearing as early as 14 years of age, early identification of mental ailments becomes even more crucial. It is estimated that in the U.S. alone, every fifth child aged 13-18 will have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder at some point during their life. Unfortunately, only 20 percent are ever diagnosed for their conditions. When left undiagnosed or untreated, mental illnesses can impact the way young people learn and build skills that can lead to challenges in future.
Sound mental health important for good life
Good mental health is about being emotionally, socially and cognitively healthy to be able to enjoy life to the fullest. While positive mental health allows an individual to realize his/her full potential, cope with stressors of life, work productively and make a meaningful contribution to communities; untreated mental illnesses can make ordinary things like school, work and socializing hard and also cause a great deal of suffering for both the patients as well as their family members.
If you or someone you know is suffering from any kind of mental illnesses, contact the 24/7 Mental Health Helpline. Our trained counselors at our mental health live chat can answer your questions about mental disorders and help identify the best mental rehab centers. Call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 653-8178 or chat live on our mental help chat to know more about the finest mental health facilities suitable for you.