LANSING — Today, House Bill 5524 passed in House, sponsored by state Rep. Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), which would require the Michigan Department of Education, in coordination with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, to develop or adopt a professional development course for teachers on mental health first aid.

“Teachers should have the resources they need to help our young people succeed,” Santana said. “The warning signs of mental illness must be accurately identified for our young people to succeed. My legislation will give educators the tools they need to help our youth get the assistance they need.”

The training would instruct educators on how to identify potential risk factors and warning signs of mental illnesses, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, eating disorders and self-harm. The legislation would also require both departments to develop strategies for helping an individual experiencing a mental health crisis, assessing risk, listening respectfully, supporting the person, helping an individual experiencing a mental health crisis, and identifying professional help and other resources for him or her. 

“In 2015, suicide was the second-leading cause of death for those under 25 in Michigan, and that is deeply saddening,” Santana expressed. “So many bright futures are being cut short. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this training to our educators and support to our young people.”