Briggs introduces legislation to elevate mental health education in schools

HARRISBURG, May 27 – State Rep. Tim Briggs has introduced legislation that would elevate the significance of mental health in schools’ health education classes.

House Bill 784 would require mental health education be incorporated into existing health and wellness curricula for primary and secondary schools, aiming to make sure programs recognize the multiple dimensions of health and to establish parity between physical and mental health.

“We need to make sure schools are providing health education that respects the importance of mental health, which affects overall well-being. Teaching children the facts about mental health and openly discussing the issue will help us remove the stigma that surrounds mental illness and keeps many young people from getting the help they need,” said Briggs, D-Montgomery. “Adding mental health to existing health curricula increase the likelihood that students can recognize signs and symptoms and seek help or support their classmates.”

School districts would be able to consult a mental health organization to establish age-appropriate material.

Research shows that 46 percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life, and half of those cases develop by age 14.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

“It’s important that individuals struggling with mental health issues know they aren’t alone. The past year has been incredibly difficult for many people – adults and children – making it even more critical that we focus on mental health,” said Briggs. “Including mental health in school curricula will help families feel more comfortable seeking treatment, improve students’ academic performance and ultimately save lives.”

Pennsylvania’s guide to mental health resources is available at this link.