Middle and high school can be really stressful for kids these days. Let's be honest - it was incredibly stressful when we were in middle school and high school too! It's such a major transition, between the simpler days of elementary school and all the tween and teen drama of middle and high school. Not to mention, kids these days have some added pressures and stresses to deal with, like social media and the rash of school shootings that have plagued our country. Kids are bullied at an alarming rate, and so many young people have so much to deal with in their personal lives. When things get rough for us as adults, we often turn to mental health professionals to help us cope with what's going on, or seek treatment for our mental health. But so many kids don't have access to those resources, or don't know how to ask for them. That's why we are 100% behind what the state of Florida is going to start doing. Florida will now require kids to take mandatory mental health classes, starting in the 6th grade. It's a big step toward recognizing that our tweens and teens need support, too.
Last Wednesday, the state's Board of Education voted on the new requirement. It means that every student in public school in Florida will be required to receive at least five hours of mental health classes per school year, starting in the 6th grade and continuing through the 12th grade. In these classes, students will learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of mental illness or distress, and also learn how to seek help and use the resources available to them or others.
Students will also be taught how to talk to peers who are struggling with mental health or mental illness. According to the summary written for the vote, 1 in 5 youth in Florida will experience a mental health disorder before they turn 25. So time, and education, really is important here.
Last year, New York and Virginia passed similar requirements for public school students, so hopefully the tide is turning and more states will get on board. The tween and teen years are already so difficult, it's great to see schools doing something to support these students through such a crucial time in their lives.