Sen. Santana introduces bill to standardize mental health training for teachers

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit) has made mental health training for teachers her first order of business in the new legislative session.

Senate Bill 41 would require the Michigan Department of Education, in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, to develop or adopt a professional development course for teachers in mental health first aid so that educators can assist in the event of a mental health crisis.

“If we want our children to reach their potential, we need to ensure they’re not just physically healthy, but mentally healthy too,” Sen. Santana said.

Mental health can have a massive impact on the emotional development and educational development of a student. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 37 percent of students age 14 and older drop out of school — the highest dropout rate of any disability group. In addition, most students with a mental illness live with it for the rest of their life, with 50 percent of all lifetime cases beginning by age 14.

“Our educators care deeply about our students, and this little extra training will give them the help they need to prevent, identify and treat mental health crises as they occur,” Sen. Santana said.

This legislation is a reintroduction of House Bill 5524 from the 2017-2018 legislative session, also sponsored by Sen. Santana. It was crafted from recommendations made by the House C.A.R.E.S. Task Force report and had a near unanimous vote in the Michigan House of Representatives, but was never taken up by the Senate.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee.

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