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NBC News: 22.2% of kids are mentally ill; NY schools are taking steps to deal with it

Sept 23, 2018, NBC News: This fall, all New York students will be learning about mental health—Psychologists and other mental health experts say it’s a big deal https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/fall-all-new-york-students-will-be-learning-about-mental-ncna911031 Elementary, middle and high school students across the state of New York have a new topic on their educational agendas as they head back to class this fall: mental health. On July 1, a new law took effect in New York, which adds a paragraph to the state's Education Law mandating mental health as part of health education in schools. New York is the first state in the U.S. to require mental health to be taught as part of health education. Mental health experts say it’s a big deal. The stigma associated with mental illness and treatment for mental illness still exists, and is still a significant barrier standing in the way of more people seeking treatment for problems they face, Meredith Coles, PhD, professor of psychology at Binghamton University of the State University of New York, told NBC News BETTER. “It’s time to recognize that mental illnesses are real and treatable.” The numbers among children are similarly if not more jarring. Data published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from a nationally representative sample of 10,123 adolescents ages 13 to 18 found that 22.2 percent had a serious mental illness. … Other data estimate 50 percent of mental illness begins by age 14, and 75 percent begins by age 24. Decreasing stigma, changing attitudes and giving students practical knowledge they can use when it comes to mental health problems they or others face is why New York passed this legislation, New York’s State Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, tells NBC News BETTER…. The approach is based on principles similar to those used in mental health training programs for adults such as “Mental Health First Aid,” which are designed to increase mental health literacy by increasing knowledge in how to prevent mental health problems, recognize early signs of mental health problems, and get help (as well as where to get it). Evidence suggest this approach works, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in May in the journal PLoS One…. While New York is the first state to mandate mental health education in elementary school through high school curricula, it is certainly not the only state paying attention to the issue. Virginia passed legislation that also becomes effective this school year requiring schools to teach mental health lessons to ninth- and 10th-grade students….