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Florida to require mental health classes in public schools

Posted: 9:30 AM, Jul 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-18 18:23:31-04
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(WTXL) — Florida public schools will now be required to provide students in grades 6-12 at least five hours of mental health instruction.

According to the South Florida SunSentinel , the state Board of Education unanimously approved the change Wednesday.

Under their approval, students in grades 6-12 will be required to take courses that help them identify the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, find how to get help, and teach them how to help peers who are struggling.

The change will allow school districts choose which type of classes the students will be required to take. However, it's unclear if the classes will begin in the upcoming school year.

The decision follows First Lady Casey DeSantis' mental health and substance abuse awareness imitative called Hope for Healing Florida.


The State Board of Education will vote on Wednesday to require every Florida public school to provide students at least five hours of mental health instruction.

“Ron and I have traveled the state and have heard from many families who voice concern about the struggles that adversely affect so many of our children," said First Lady Casey DeSantis. "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. Providing mental health instruction is another important step forward in supporting our families."

According to education officials, this announcement further solidifies Florida’s commitment to ensuring students are provided all the tools necessary to succeed in life.

In May, First Lady Casey DeSantis also announced the Hope for Healing Florida initiative, which is a new multi-agency mental health and substance abuse campaign.

“This is just the beginning. It’s no secret that mental illness robs students of the ability to reach their full potential, and we are joining forces to combat this disease and give our students the tools they need to thrive. Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said. "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."

During the State Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, the Board will vote to require school districts to annually provide a minimum of five hours of instruction to grades 6-12 students related to youth mental health awareness and assistance. The instruction must include:

A) Awareness of signs and symptoms;

B) Process for getting or seeking help for themselves or others;

C) Awareness of resources (i.e., Fortify Florida app and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255); and

D) What to do or say to peers struggling with mental health disorders.

For more information on the Hope for Healing Florida campaign, visit hopeforhealingfl.com.

For more information about the Florida Department of Education, visit www.fldoe.org.