TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Students in Florida classrooms will soon be required to take at least five hours of mental health classes beginning in sixth grade.
The State Board of Education approved a mandate Wednesday that requires a mental health curriculum for grades 6-12.
The courses are aimed at helping students identified unrecognized, untreated and late-treated mental illness. They will also provide resources for students battling with depression and other issues, and also show students how to help their peers who are struggling with a mental health disorder.
“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,” Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said in a statement released after the vote on Wednesday.
The move follows First Lady Casey Desantis’ mental health and substance abuse awareness initiative. DeSantis has been pushing for more mental health education while traveling the state and holding “listening sessions” on mental health and substance abuse prevention.
Corcoran said DeSantis took an active role in crafting the policy.
“We know that 50 percent of all mental illness cases begin by age 14, so we are being proactive in our commitment to provide our kids with the necessary tools to see them through their successes and challenges,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Providing mental health instruction is another important step forward in supporting our families.”
The mandate will let school districts choose which type of classes the students will be required to take. It’s still not known when it will become effective.