Carson bill would make sure Maine students learn about mental health

Posted: April 09, 2019 | Education and Cultural Affairs, Senator Carson

AUGUSTA — Legislation introduced by Sen. Brownie Carson, D-Harpswell, would ensure that health education in Maine schools includes lessons about mental health. LD 1024, “An Act To Include Mental Health Education in Maine Schools,” received a public hearing Monday, April 1 before the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee.

“It is rare that we pick up a report on children’s health today that does not reference mental health,” said Sen. Carson. “Teaching our kids how to be more conversant about mental health will surely bring this subject out of the shadows. It will help kids who are experiencing mental health problems to recognize them and seek counseling or peer support more often.”

LD 1024 would require health education instruction in elementary, middle, junior high and high schools to include lessons in mental health and the relationship between physical and mental health.

“Teaching students from an early age about the interconnectedness of physical and mental health will enhance their overall wellbeing and will help to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness,” said Pender Makin, Commissioner of Education.

Brunswick School Department Superintendent Paul Perzanoski also testified in support of the bill, citing the experience he had trying to help his son through a depressive episode, and the surprising lack of help he received from his fellow educators and colleagues.

“Mental health issues are as common as most physical health issues, but can seem to be viewed in society as something any individual can control,” Perzanoski said. “We need to remove the stigma of shame and instill a safe environment for knowledge to take its place.”

The bill faces further action in the committee and votes before the Maine House and Senate.