This bill intends to improve the mental health of teens in high schools throughout New Jersey through a Mindfulness Course.
An Act requiring the integration of a Mindfulness Course in public high schools in New Jersey.
Be it enacted by the Youth Model Legislature of the State of New Jersey that a Mindfulness Course be instituted in public high schools as part of the required curriculum for graduation.
Definitions: Mindfulness: The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis Mindfulness Course: Stress relief skills and overall mood improving skills and psychology behind them for young adolescent high school students The practice and instruction of Mindfulness can be achieved in many ways, some examples include: Light exercise practices, Music, Art, Meditation, Written Forms, and Outdoor and nature activities Present Law Regarding Health, Safety, and Physical Education: 15 credits over four years including: 3 3⁄4 credits in health, safety, and physical education during each year of enrollment, distributed as 150 minutes per week each year
Section 1: Mindfulness be equally required under the Health Course clause: (N.J.S.A. 18A:35-5, 18A:35-7 and 18A:35-8) for the purpose of falling under the department of Education’s reasoning for the importance of requiring a Health Course: (https://www.education.nh.gov/instruction/school_health/health_coord_education.htm) “Health education teaches about physical, mental, emotional and social health. It motivates students to improve and maintain their health, prevent disease, and reduce risky behaviors. Health education curricula and instruction help students learn skills they will use to make healthy choices throughout their lifetime.” It is important to note that while many argue that the practice of Mindfulness can be as a whole categorized under ‘Health’ curriculum, it is important to distinguish the difference and separate this class as an entirely separate entity. While Health class teaches students about more broad and a variety of topics such as their body and systems, drug and alcohol use and its effects, healthy eating and sleeping habits, sex education, etc., a Mindfulness Course would que in specifically on instructing healthy stress coping skills and mood activities.
Section 2: Require that the curriculum includes: Forms of light physical activity, Forms of creative and interactive activities, Tasks and assignments in the form of writing, not graded as assessments, completion based course, Interactive work with peers, community work
Section 3: Require that a Mindfulness Course, although it would be valued equally to Health and Physical Education by law, will be unlike Health or Gym as it would only be required for one school year for a student to graduate
Section 4: Require that the listed curriculum is taught throughout 60 days of one school year, school’s discretion how they want to organize this time period according to scheduling
Section 5: Require that the curriculum is taught by staff members, limited to Gym or Health teachers
Section 6: Require that all public schools in the state train staff to adequately instruct this course as well as to properly assist students with mental health challenges
Effective Date: This bill shall take effect on May 1st, beginning the month of mental health awareness.
Statement of Intent:
The purpose of this bill is to instill a Mindfulness Course in the public high schools of New Jersey in order to help students learn healthy ways to improve their overall mood as well as to reduce the stress they experience on a day to day basis. In training staff adequately, not only will all staff be better equipped to handle difficult situations pertaining to students who suffer with mental health challenges, but the teachers assigned to instruct the course will do so adequately.
Statistics on Mental Health and Suicide as an Issue “50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24. Approximately 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder.” “Many mental health disorders first present during adolescence.” “Between 20% and 30% of adolescents have one major depressive episode before they reach adulthood.” “For a quarter of individuals with mood disorders like depression, these first emerge during adolescence. “Between 50% and 75% of adolescents with anxiety disorders and impulse control disorders (such as conduct disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) develop these during adolescence.”
Finances will be covered and the responsibility as well as priority of the NJDOE.