Senate approves bill for substance abuse, mental health curricula in health classes
STATE HOUSE – The Senate today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Adam J. Satchell requiring the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to consider incorporating substance abuse prevention, mental health awareness and suicide prevention into the curriculum for health classes.
The legislation (2017-S 0306) is part of the Senate’s package of mental health legislation aimed at improving mental illness prevention and early intervention, access to treatment, and the mental health care system overall.
The legislation requires the department to consider, in consultation with the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, incorporating into the curriculum evidence-based, age appropriate programs, practices, or curricula related to the use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs and mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
“Giving kids age-appropriate information about the dangers of substance abuse and how to recognize and get help for mental health struggles could save lives. Young people face many pressures that make it easy to fall into the traps posed by drugs or alcohol. Many experience isolation and depression, and don’t know how to talk to anyone about those feelings or how to get help. These are issues kids face in every community, and kids everywhere should be taught how to recognize such problems and to get help. Solid education will also help eradicate the stigma that keeps people from seeking assistance,” said Senator Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick), who works as a guidance counselor in the West Warwick School Department.
The bill, which will now go to the House, is cosponsored by Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Warwick), Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence), Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett and Sen. Mark W. Gee (R-Dist. 35, East Greenwich, Narragansett, North Kingstown, South Kingstown).
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903