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Florida Districts Will Now Have To Provide Mental Health Instruction In Middle, High Schools

A student walks down a school hallway lined with lockers.
Olesya Shelomova
Adobe Stock

Florida school districts will now be required to give at least five hours of mental health instruction per year to middle and high school students.

The State Board of Education Wednesday passed comprehensive guidelines requiring districts to draw up curriculum.

School districts will be expected to teach students in grades 6-12 how to recognize and prevent mental health disorders, seek treatment, and develop coping techniques. The new requirements are also meant to help break the stigma surrounding mental health disorders.

Districts will be required to give Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran an implementation plan by December of each year, and by July provide him with a report showing the instruction has been carried out. The new rule will be in effect for the 2019-20 school year.

The effort for added mental health measures in schools has been bolstered by First Lady Casey DeSantis, who has made it a principle cause. She applauded the board’s vote in a statement, writing: “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.”

Ryan Dailey is a reporter/producer for WFSU/Florida Public Radio. After graduating from Florida State University, Ryan went into print journalism working for the Tallahassee Democrat for five years. At the Democrat, he worked as a copy editor, general assignment and K-12 education reporter.