Proposed law will have State of Alaska take pro-active role in expanding mental health education for Alaska’s K-12


A bill requiring mental health education for students, introduced a year ago in the Alaska Senate, has made its way to the Senate Finance Committee, the last stop before it gets into the Rules Committee for calendaring for the Senate floor, where it will be debated and voted on.

SB 80 would amend the existing health education curriculum statute to include mental health curriculum in K-12 health classrooms.

Under the provisions of the new law, the State Board of Education and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development would be required to develop the guidelines for mental health curricula in Alaska schools, and then the schools would be required to teach to the standards.

Those guidelines would be done in consultation with the National Council for Behavioral Health, Providence Health and Services Alaska, Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage Community Mental Health Services, Inc., North Star Behavioral Health System, and the National Alliance on Mental Health Illness Alaska. The standards will be developed in consultation with counselors, educators, students, administrators, and other mental health organizations. The bill makes no mention of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the state’s leading mental health organization.

The bill’s purpose, says bill sponsor Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson, is to “adequately educate students on vital information pertaining to mental health symptoms, resources, and treatment,” particularly in this era of what is perceived to be a mental health crisis among youth in the state.

“Currently, the health curriculum guidelines include prevention and treatment of diseases; learning about ‘good’ health practices including diet, exercise, and personal hygiene; and ‘bad’ health habits such as substance abuse, alcoholism, and patterns of physical abuse. But the guidelines do not address mental health,” according to Gray-Jackson.

After standards have been developed, the Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development and Department of Education would be responsible for implementation throughout the Alaska school system. As with existing health education curriculum, the DEED, the DHSS, and the Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault will provide technical assistance to school districts in the development of personal safety curricula. An existing school health education specialist position will assist in coordinating the program statewide.

“The State has a responsibility to treat the current mental health crisis in Alaska as a serious public health issue,” Gray-Jackson said in her explanation of the bill. “By creating mental health education standards and encouraging schools to teach a mental health curriculum, SB80 aims to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and increase students’ knowledge of mental health, encouraging conversation around and understanding of the issue.”

Read a letter from a list of left-leaning organizations that support this bill.


  1. This will of course be the tip of the spear to introduce the spectrum of LGQBT thought into the schools as it will be promoted as a necessity for children’s mental health.

  2. How come they never introduce anything that will teach them to read, right, and do math first?
    Shouldn’t we start there before adding any more curriculums?
    How is anyone or any piece of legislation going to teach them about mental health when a lot of them can’t even read or write by the time they graduate high school?

  3. The legislature and government types are sick enough. Heal themselves before inflicting the “cures” on is.

  4. Schools are not parents. Parents are responsible for their children’s health, mental and otherwise. A school cannot give a kid an aspirin, but they can send them to Planned Parenthood to end a life or introduce contraception. Now they are going to be responsible for a kid’s mental health. The height of hubris. How ’bout we worry about the half of kids graduating that can’t read, or the one’s who just plain aren’t graduating? Math, English, History, Civics, PE, not much else, please.

  5. Let me get this straight. The Education Industry closed schools and made students mask up even outdoors for nearly 2 years. These policies by educators created a terrible mental health crisis among our students. Depression, anxiety, suicide, no social outlets, etc. And THEY want to solve the problem they created? How about penalizing the education industry that created the problem? They have ruined many children for a long, long time. Some will carry the wounds forever and never recover. They have had their futures stolen. That is the real shame.

  6. Coming from elvi, if passed, this is one step closer to oneday declaring american christians mentally ill and family members teaching children the bible a form of a child abuse.

  7. Great, another tool for social control. I could imagine that many of the students referred for mental health “evaluation” would be those expressing conservative or contrarian views on anything or males in general. Perhaps those for whom additional services are deemed necessary could be sent to special “camps” for further “treatment.” Yeah, I know, someone will say this is all far-fetched. Nevertheless, it is a good time to ask whether expansion of the role of schools detracts from the delivery of a good education. Based on recent history, this proposal is a step in the wrong direction.

  8. There is only so much time the kid is in school. If this course is added, what course will be dropped? Perhaps making sure that each kid can read, write, and do math at their grade level will help with their mental health.

  9. —-SB80 aims to decrease the stigma surrounding mental illnesses

    That we adults have educated ourselves to say there is a stigma around mental illnesses, does not mean that we have to educate our children to the same. We can rise above those who taught us that prejudice.

    “Decrease” “the stigma” literally means Continue to accommodate those taught and teaching it and Hold Onto some if it. We owe ourselves and our children better.

    Harold A Maio

  10. This worked pretty well in the old Soviet Union. When you disagreed or chose another path, you were diagnosed with a mental illness and treated. Whether you wanted to be treated or not. What could possibly go wrong? Cheers –

  11. It would be a waste of time to include any written material in this new curriculum, since we are no longer teaching kids how to read.

  12. The only real education for youth currently is Pop Music and Pop Culture and this is planned down to the letter by the left. If you notice ADN is always promoting Pop Music like it is religion. No? YES!

  13. Maybe they should concentrate on the core requirements before expanding the scope. We are nearly dead last in our results and the top as far as spending per child. what does a kindergartner care about mental health? they should be learning math and reading, not all this other garbage. they can learn that as an elective in higher grades. this is why people are pulling their children out of public education………….

  14. The part of the article that bugs me the most is the following;

    “The standards will be developed in consultation with counselors, educators, students, administrators, and other mental health organizations.”

    Does anyone see PARENTS in this quote? This is the epitome of everyone but the parents having a say in their child’s life. If a parent comes to a facility for mental health help for their child yet has absolutely no idea how that facility is going to critique and evaluate that Childs problem, how can that parent trust the treatment they are receiving and what laws are in place to protect that parent and child from a possibly overreaching and abusive facility? It never ceases to amaze me how a person with a degree in that field thinks they know more about how to approach a child rather than a parent that knows more about their Childs behavior and how to handle it on a daily basis due to the love for that child. I just think politicians and organizations have a bad habit of discounting the parents in their drive to do something that is supposed to help. We are having the same problem in our schools where some school boards are listening more to the Teachers Unions than the parents of the kids they are responsible for. We must acknowledge the parents authority over their child.

  15. This could be an opportunity to treat gender dysphoria for what it is: a psychological condition that requires professional help. Obviously that won’t happen unless every school mental health provider actually follows the science, something liberals only embrace when it suits their agenda. Instead, we change long established societal rules for a tiny portion of our population that is confused about their gender. This country needs a re-set.

Comments are closed.