Bill would require mental health education

A legislator concerned about the mental health of Alaska’s youth has pre-filed legislation to require K-12 mental health curriculum, to be sure students are educated on symptoms, resources and treatment.

“According to the 2017 Alaska High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which surveyed 1,343 high school students across the state, more than one in three students reported feeling sad or hopeless,” said Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage. “The state has a responsibility to treat the current mental health crisis in Alaska as a serious public health issue.”

House Bill 181 aims to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illness and increase student knowledge of mental health, encouraging conversation around and understanding of the issue.

HB 181 would require the Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to develop guidelines for mental health instruction in consultation with the state Department of Health and Social Services, as well as representatives of national and state mental health organizations. Course standards would be developed with input from counselors, educators, students, administrators and other mental health organizations.