Florida Passes New Law Requiring Mental Health Education

By: Mary Vega (Web Editor)
In May of 2019, Florida Legislature signed Senate Bill 7030 into law. This law requires that every student enrolled in a Florida public school from middle to high school will receive at least 5 hours of mental health education each school year.
(Cover Image Source: National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners)

The law was brought about by concern from parents and school faculty members about mental illness in students. Studies by the World Health Organization show that 50% of all mental illness cases begin by the age of 14. This research, and the rise in school shooting incidents in the past few years presented the need for mental health education and counseling in students from middle to high school age.  The Commissioner of Education, Richard Corcoran said, “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.” 

The mental health training that students will be receiving consists of education about awareness of signs and symptoms, the process for getting or seeking help for themselves or others, awareness of resources, substance abuse, abuse in relationships, and what to do or say to peers that are struggling with mental health disorders.

Most people support the new law, and think that mental health education is a great and necessary addition to the curriculum in middle and high schools, but many people are confused as to who will be administering the required 5 hours. The budget for the project will come from the $75 million that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has given to the Mental Health Assistance Allocation for Florida schools which is included in his 2020 budget. Clearly, schools and parents would want licensed mental health professionals to teach the material, but nothing official has been released about who will be instructing the students.

This new project is partnered with First Lady Casey DeSantis’ new initiative called Hope for Healing Florida which is a website full of mental health resources for students and parents. Hope for Healing Florida can help students that go through the mental health training and think that they may be experiencing symptoms of a mental illness or wish to seek help. It can also help parents who believe their child is showing signs of a mental illness. 

In the press release from the Florida Department of Education, Casy DeSantis said, “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.” Hopefully, the mental health training will lower rates of mental illness in teenagers and decrease the amount of school shootings by students.