The Delaware House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation last week that would institute mental health educational programs in elementary, middle and high schools throughout the state. House Bill 301 would require the Department of Education to establish a statewide mental health educational curriculum for kindergarten through grade 12 in each school district and charter school, tailored to the developmental needs of students at each grade level.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five youth are affected by a mental health disorder, and untreated mental illness has been shown to lead to increased risk of dropout, homelessness, substance abuse, chronic illnesses, incarceration, and possibly suicide. However, students with access to mental health services in school-based health centers are 10 times more likely to seek care for mental health or substance abuse than youth without access.
A 2017 survey of Delaware high school students found that in the preceding year, more than one-quarter felt sad or hopeless every day for two weeks in a row, 16% seriously considered attempting suicide, and 7.2% attempted suicide.
|House Bill 301 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Longhurst, Baumbach, Heffernan, Minor-Brown, S.Moore, Bolden, K.Johnson, Lynn, Mitchell, Morrison, K.Williams||House Passes 41-0. Baumbach Bennett Bentz Bolden Brady Bush Carson Chukwuocha Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Heffernan K.Johnson K.Williams Kowalko Lambert Longhurst Lynn Matthews Minor-Brown Mitchell Morrison Osienski S.Moore Schwartzkopf Wilson-Anton Briggs King Collins D.Short Dukes Gray Hensley M.Smith Morris Postles Ramone Shupe Smyk Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick|
|McBride, Ennis, Gay, Hansen, Mantzainos, Sokola|
Senate Education 3/22/22
House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst: “We know that unaddressed trauma leads to lifelong mental health challenges, substance use disorders, as well as higher rates of incarceration and negative health behaviors, including suicide. Untreated mental health issues impact a person’s physical health and create costly outcomes over the course of their lifetime.”
“We need to break the stigma of mental health, and one of the most important ways we can do that is by educating young people about mental health so young people recognize warning signs and can get help. I know how important early intervention can be – we’re talking about improving the quality of life and even saving kids’ lives.”
Sen. Sarah McBride, the Senate sponsor of the bill: “While so many people experience their first mental health crisis as a child or teen, our society has long been slow to recognize those early experiences and is often ill-prepared to provide young people with the tools and support they need, which only serves to reinforce many of the stigmas that prevent young people and adults from seeking treatment.”
“I want to commend Rep. Valerie Longhurst for recognizing that we all experience difficult moments in our lives and working to normalize conversations around mental health, starting at an early age. I believe strongly that the education programs created by this bill will help to save lives, and I look forward to passing HB 301 in the Senate.”