Relates to clarifying health education.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the education law, in relation to including instruction in mental health within health education in schools
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill calls on school districts to ensure that their health education programs recognize the multiple dimensions of health by including mental health and the relation between mental and physical health in health education.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1 adds a new paragraph to Education Law §804 to declare that mental health as well as physical health is part of health education in the schools.
Section 2 makes the bill effective on July 1, 2012.
JUSTIFICATION: New York State Education Department regulations recognize that there are several dimensions to health and health education including mental health. Statute, however, is not clear. This legislation, therefore, updates New York law to keep public education apace with our advancements in the understanding and treatment of mental health issues.
It has been forty years since New York's education laws first called for teaching about health matters in our schools. Over the years state law has expanded to recognize that knowledge about specific public health concerns such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco abuse and the prevention and detection of certain cancers is critically important for students. Equally critical, but missing from current law and often the classroom, is the recognition that mental health is as important to health and well-being as physical health. The World Health Organization considers health to be "a state of complete physical, mental and social well=being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Mental Health, as we understand it in 2012, is an integral part of health education in New York schools.
By ensuring that young people learn about health, we the likelihood that they will be able to more effectively recognize signs in themselves and others, including family members, and get help. Further, as we begin to teach the facts about mental health and openly discuss the issues from a health perspective, we will begin to remove the stigma surrounding mental health - a stigma that causes ostracism and isolation, leads to bullying and keeps many students from getting the help they need. Over 50 percent of students with emotional or behavioral disorders drop out of high school and, of those who do remain in school, only 42% graduate. Health education that respects the importance of mental health and challenges of mental illness will help young people and their families feel more comfortable seeking help to improve academic performance and save
lives. As New York works to restructure and integrate systems of health and mental health care, so too should our schools prepare our citizens of tomorrow to think differently about the role of mental health in their lives.
This bill does not mandate curriculum. Students are already required to take health classes in order to graduate. Instead this bill codified in statute what state regulations already recognize - that health is multi-dimensional. And, thereby brings state law up-to-date with our current understanding of health.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This bill shall be effective July 1, 2012.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7030 IN SENATE April 24, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sens. McDONALD, DeFRANCISCO, GOLDEN, LARKIN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to including instruction in mental health within health education in schools THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 804 of the education law, as added by chapter 982 of the laws of 1977, the section heading as amended and subdivision 3-a as added by chapter 401 of the laws of 1998, subdivision 3 as amended by chapter 674 of the laws of 2004, and subdivision 4 as amended by chapter 181 of the laws of 2000, is amended to read as follows: S 804. Health education regarding MENTAL HEALTH, alcohol, drugs, tobacco abuse and the prevention and detection of certain cancers. 1. ALL SCHOOLS UNDER THE JURISDICTION OF THE DEPARTMENT SHALL ENSURE THAT THEIR HEALTH EDUCATION PROGRAMS RECOGNIZE THE MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS OF HEALTH BY INCLUDING MENTAL HEALTH AND THE RELATION OF PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH SO AS TO ENHANCE STUDENT UNDERSTANDING, ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS THAT PROMOTE HEALTH, WELL-BEING AND HUMAN DIGNITY. 2. All schools shall include, as an integral part of health education, instruction so as to discourage the misuse and abuse of alcohol, tobac- co, and other drugs and promote attitudes and behavior that enhance health, well being, and human dignity.
[2.]3. Instruction regarding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs shall be included in the health education provided for all elementary school pupils and shall be taught by the regular classroom teachers or by teachers certified to teach health education. Such instruction shall be designed according to the needs and abilities of the pupils at succes- sive grade levels with the purpose of developing desirable health behav- ior, attitudes, and knowledge as well as self-reliance and problem solv- ing capacity. [3.]4. Instruction regarding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, in addition to continued health guidance in the junior high school grades and the senior high schools, shall be an integral part of a requiredEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14964-03-2 S. 7030 2
health education course at each of these levels in the secondary schools curriculum. Students shall be required to demonstrate knowledge in the subject area through the use of a test, graded project or report, or any other means prescribed by the school authorities regarding alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Any such course shall be taught by teachers holding a certificate to teach health. Related courses in the secondary school curriculum shall be taught in a manner supportive of health education regarding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. In addition, instruction regarding the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs shall be an integral part of a required health education course in the senior high schools. Such instruction shall be provided in all senior high schools whether or not these schools also provide driver education courses.
[3-a.]5. Instruction regarding methods of prevention and detection of certain cancers, including but not limited to breast cancer, skin cancer, testicular cancer and other cancers where certain preventive measures have become generally accepted and certain detection methods have been adopted and recommended generally to the public. Such instruc- tion shall be an integral part of a required health education course at the senior high school level, in addition to continued health guidance in senior high schools. Any such course shall be taught by teachers holding a certificate to teach health. [4.]6. a. The commissioner may prescribe in regulations such health education courses which include instruction regarding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs as the commissioner may deem necessary and desirable for the welfare of pupils and the community. The contents may be varied to meet the needs of particular school districts, or portions thereof, and need not be uniform throughout the state, provided, however, that school districts shall utilize either the curriculum for health education instruction regarding alcohol, tobacco and other drugs prescribed by the commissioner or a course approved by the commissioner in accordance with criteria established by the commissioner. b. The commissioner shall make available an interpersonal violence prevention education package for grades kindergarten through twelve, which package may consist of student pamphlets, parent pamphlets, vide- otapes and other informative materials to be distributed to school districts, and shall encourage the use of such material as part of the health or other related curricula or programs. c. The regents shall review the health curriculum requirements in existence on the effective date of this paragraph for the purpose of streamlining such curriculum and identifying any outdated components that may be eliminated or consolidated in order to ensure that students have sufficient time and instruction to develop skills to address issues of violence prevention and mental health. To the extent appropriate, the regents shall modify the existing curriculum to provide greater focus on the development of skills, by no later than middle school, that are needed to recognize, cope with and address potentially violent inci- dents [,]including an understanding of [student's]STUDENT roles in emergency situations [, what to do when confronted with another student who is experiencing a mental health problem,]and other related skills designed to reduce the threat of violence in schools. [5.]7. School authorities shall provide the needed facilities, time, and place for the instruction set forth herein and shall provide learn- ing aids and curriculum resource materials which contribute to effective teaching methods and learning in health education regarding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.S. 7030 3
[6.]8. All pre-service training programs in the state for elementary teachers shall include adequate preparation regarding the instruction in alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs set forth herein, and no teacher shall be licensed except upon satisfactory demonstration of the competencies included in the institutional proposals approved by the [education]department. [7.]9. Nothing contained in this section shall be deemed to diminish or impair the duties of the commissioner with respect to the continuing program for critical health problems established by chapter seven hundred eighty-seven of the laws of nineteen hundred sixty-seven as amended. The commissioner shall coordinate actions taken under authority of this section with the provisions of said chapter as they relate to health education in schools, inservice training and training programs, and curriculum or syllabus development regarding the deleterious effects resulting from the use, misuse, and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. S 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2012.