New York law will require schools to address mental illness in 2018-19

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Starting in 2018, public schools in New York will have to include mental health education in curriculums. 

New York will be the first state in the country to incorporate the topic in its health classes along with subjects like physical education in elementary, junior high and high schools.

According to the bill’s sponsors, the updated curriculum will increase the likelihood that students recognize the signs of mental illness in themselves and others and seek help when it’s needed. About 50 percent of students with emotional or behavioral disorders drop out of high school. The sponsors also hope to reduce the stigma that leads to isolation, ostracism and bullying.

Experts say a person with a mental illness typically first shows signs around the age of 14. Fifty percent of anxiety disorder cases are found in children age 10 or under. 

Karl Shallowhorn with the Mental Health Association of Erie County said this will not only help students who are dealing with a mental illness but also open up discussion on a topic that's stigmatized by the masses. 

"If there is an intervention early on then there is more likely to be a positive outcome," Shallowhorn said. 

State educators are working with mental health experts to iron out the curriculum ahead of the 2018-19 school year. The law takes effect July 2018.

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