AUGUSTA, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills has approved a bill that will promote mental health education in Maine schools.
On Friday, May 17, Mills signed L.D. 1024, "An Act To Destigmatize Mental Illness Through Health Instruction That Emphasizes the Relationship Between Physical and Mental Health in Schools."
Under the new law, elementary, junior high, and high schools in the state will be required to include lessons about mental health and the relationship between physical and mental health in their health education curriculums.
Sen. Everett Carson (D-Harspwell) was the sponsor for this bill.
"Mental illness is a widespread problem in Maine that affects so many people, including children," said Carson in a statement after the bill was signed into law. "By making sure our young people are learning about mental health in the context of their overall well-being, we can help turn the tide."
A maine.gov study from 2018 showed that about 227 people died by suicide each year in Maine between 2014 and 2016.
Suicide was the fourth leading cause of death in the state for kids ages 10-14 years old. It was the second leading cause of death among people ages 15-34 years old.
"Teaching students from an early age about the interconnectedness of physical and mental health will enhance their overall well-being and will help to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness," added Pender Makin, Maine Commissioner of Education, to the statement.
The bill will go into effect 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.