Enhanced mental health requirements for Florida schools

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On July 17, the State Board of Education will vote to require every Florida public school to provide students in grades 6-12 at least five hours of mental health instruction. This announcement further solidifies the State of Florida’s commitment to ensuring Florida’s school children are provided all the tools necessary to succeed in life.

First Lady Casey 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. We know that 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. Providing mental health instruction is another important step forward in supporting our families.”

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.  We are going to reinvent school-based mental health awareness in Florida, and we will be the number one state in the nation in terms of mental health outreach and school safety – all because of the Governor’s and First Lady’s remarkable vision. As usual, we will be a model of innovation and reform for other states to mimic.  First Lady DeSantis has taken the lead to get the ball rolling with her recent Hope for Healing launch, and we are building on the momentum of her great leadership.”

During the State Board of Education meeting, the Board will vote to require school districts to annually provide a minimum of five hours of instruction to grades 6-12 students related to youth mental health awareness and assistance. The instruction must include:

a)    Awareness of signs and symptoms;

b)    Process for getting or seeking help for themselves or others;

c)    Awareness of resources (i.e., Fortify Florida app and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255); and

d)    What to do or say to peers struggling with mental health disorders.

In May, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced Hope for Healing Florida, a new multi-agency mental health and substance abuse campaign. The Hope for Healing Florida campaign will leverage, in part, the resources of private sector partners to produce and distribute mental health and substance abuse resource materials throughout the state at no cost to taxpayers. Those resources will help guide families in need to meaningful help in a timely fashion.

For more information on the Hope for Healing Florida campaign, visit http://hopeforhealingfl.com/.