Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Students from around Alaska appealed to the House Education Committee to support House Bill 181.
Part of the bill would require mental health education in kindergarten through twelfth grades in all Alaska public schools.
The bill sponsor is Rep. Matt Claman. He said the bill amends the existing K-12 education statute. It would educate students on mental health symptoms, resources, and treatment.
The current guidelines do not address mental health.
Several students spoke about the battles they have had with mental health issues and depression and noted how much assistance they could receive from mental health education.
Natalie Fraser said many Alaskans have little knowledge of mental health. "The median onset age of mental illness is 14. My symptoms worsened and I didn't grow out of it in middle school. No one in my family had formal health education on the early warning signs of mental illness."
Pat Owen, a health services professional, advocated for more services at school, "Schools desperately need more school counselors that are social workers and not just guidance counselors."
She also worried that school grants for suicide prevention could be cut from the state budget.