The Assembly Education Committee cleared legislation on Monday that would integrate mental health education into health and physical education classes for all K-12 students.
Assembly Bill 4446/4592 , sponsored by Schaer and Assembly Democrats John McKeon, D-27th District; Joann Downey, D-11th District; Raj Mukherji, D-33rd District; and Daniel Benson, D-14th District, would require health education programs in New Jersey schools to include age-appropriate instruction on mental health, including information on substance abuse.
“It’s incredibly important that students understand the many dimensions of health, from exercise to mental health and wellness,” said Assemblyman Gary Schaer, D-36th District, a prime sponsor of the bill said in a statement. “Educating children about these issues from a young age will help them gain a deeper understanding of how to care for their mental health as they get older.”
Under the measure, the State Board of Education would review and update the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. In its review, the State board would consult with mental health experts including, but not limited to, representatives from the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services in the Department of Human Services. In consultation with experts, the curriculum would be updated to incorporate mental health instruction for students K-12.
The bill would take effect immediately and first apply to the 2020-2021 school year. It is now scheduled to go to the assembly speaker for further consideration.