States are starting to integrate mental health into their curriculum — whether it’s English or biology class.
As students across the country start a new school year, some will be learning about mental health for the first time.
In two states, New York and Virginia, public schools are now required to incorporate mental health into their curriculum. New York’s law, which took effect July 1, applies to elementary, middle and high schools. In Virginia, the state is developing standards for integrating mental health education into ninth and 10th grade — the age when half of mental illnesses start cropping up.
These laws come at a time when teen suicide rates have doubled among girls and risen 30 percent among boys in recent years. At the same time, the stigma surrounding mental health is lessening — though still prevalent — in part because of the opioid epidemic, which has more people talking openly about addiction and mental health.