State Senate candidate Sara Bitter and Sen. Joe Schiavoni team up on groundbreaking mental health education bill

COLUMBUS – Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) has introduced a first-in-the-nation bill drafted by Senate candidate Sara Bitter that requires the Ohio Board of Education to adopt mental health standards for grades P-12 and instructs school districts to incorporate mental health education standards into their health education programs.

The bill addresses a mental health crisis that has made suicide the second leading cause of death among adolescents, teens and young adults ages 10-24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Mental health education for preschoolers through young adulthood is absolutely imperative,”

Bitter said. “Through education we can decrease the stigma, increase knowledge of the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and help our kids through early intervention.”

Mental health education helps children build resiliency and learn self-care techniques and positive coping skills. As children grow and mature, education should include the signs and symptoms of mental illness, actions steps to take during a crisis, and identifying local mental health resources.

“It is crucial to also educate school staff, parents, and caregivers. We know getting ahead of our mental health crisis now will save lives,” Schiavoni said.

Senate Bill 330, which was developed with the help of 1N5 Executive Director Nancy Eigel Miller, requires the State Board of Education to adopt mental health standards for grades P-12 and requires Ohio school districts to ensure that their health education programs recognize and include mental health education standards in their curriculum.

Watch Schiavoni and Bitter discuss the bill below.