(WESH) – Public schools will be required to teach students at least five hours of mental health instruction beginning in 6th grade, under a mandate approved by the state Board of Education Wednesday and hailed by Florida's top educator as a "life saver."
Education officials proposed the change to the statewide school curriculum in June, following discussions with First Lady Casey DeSantis, who has made the mental health issue one of her top priorities.
The new requirement will require students to take courses aimed at helping them to identify the signs and symptoms of mental illness, find resources if they are battling with depression or other issues, and teach them how to help peers who are struggling with a mental health disorder.
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"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," Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said in a prepared statement released following the board's unanimous vote on the measure Wednesday morning.