It’s so awesome to be able to report some good news when it comes to mental health awareness.
Here in Orange County, FL it was announced that classes designed to educate students in mental and emotional health issues will begin this month. Check out this local news story from ClickOrlando.com.
Even though this is a giant leap ahead there may already be some setbacks. According to this news story from News 13 any classroom teacher will be able to teach the classes. At least one teacher has expressed concern about this and has suggested that the classes be taught by teachers with more specialized training in mental health. Also, there seems to be no penalty for students who do not attend the classes for whatever reason nor is it clear that there will an opportunity for them to make up the classes. As with any new program there are always kinks to be worked out.
At the same time, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office recently announced a push to have more officers receive mental health training. In the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas shooting all school resource officers are required to have mental health training as well. The issue now seems to be meeting the demand for all these mental health classes to take place. One only hopes that much needed improvement will happen. Read more about it in this Channel 9 article.
Finally, a few months ago it was announced that there would also be new programs rolling out to address mental health and housing issues amongst the homeless, particularly homesless veterans (ClickOrlando news article). Anyone familiar with Orlando will know that we have a surprisingly colossal population of homessless people here in Orlando. It actually reminds me a lot of how New York City used to be in the 80s and 90s until they worked with incredibly fervor to address the problem. The same needs to happen here.
One thing I have issue with though is that the focus will be on veterans. No doubt, veterans need this help but hopefully the program will also include non-veterans as well. Addiction and mental health issues seem to be two of the largest factors in why a person becomes homeless.
Hopefully though, a new decade will bring new hope that big changes are on the horizon when it comes to mental health awareness and education. If you know of similar programs happening in your neck of the woods please feel free to share it in the comments.