SB 224 (State Senator Anthony J. Portantino), co-sponsored by NAMI California, would require all students in California receive age appropriate mental health education.
The bill ensures that students in grades 1 and 12 will receive mental health education from a qualified instructor at least one time during elementary school, one time during middle school, and one time during high school. The bill requires instruction and related materials are appropriate for use with pupils of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds, as well as students with disabilities and English learners. Educational topics include but are not limited to the overarching themes and core principals of mental health.
Why We Need It
CEO Jessica Cruz: “Mental illness impacts families, individuals and communities across our state on a daily basis. Schools are one of the first points of contact where students show early signs and symptoms of an onset of mental illness. In order to change our culture in how we respond to mental illness, we must educate students early and often. With suicide rates in young adults at an all-time high, it is more important than ever that we implement curriculum that will help connect students and families to the appropriate resources and treatments available.”
Senator Portantino: “It is inarguable that we are in the midst of a mental health crisis in California. Even before the pandemic, the rate of students struggling with mental health problems such as depression has steadily risen over the years. Now isolated from their family and friends, students are suffering even more. Mental health is just as important as physical health and it is unfortunate that we neglect it in our curriculum. By educating kids from a young age, we can bring these issues out of the shadows and end the stigma and taboo surrounding the discussion of mental health.”
Where It Stands
January 2021: Bill introduced by Portantino.
March 2021: Bill approved with bipartisan support by the Senate Education Committee.