Miller, Schlossberg to propose adding mental health, physical and developmental disabilities to school curriculum

MT. LEBANON, July 27 – As more students with disabilities or a mental health diagnosis are successfully integrated into public schools, state Reps. Dan Miller and Mike Schlossberg are planning legislation to add those topics to the health class curriculum.

Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, and Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, want Pennsylvania school districts to educate students in an age-appropriate manner about mental health, physical disabilities and developmental disabilities in order to help break down barriers, both in school and beyond.

“Our bill would require the Department of Education to create curriculum guidelines for health classes that provide a framework for positive discussion and increased understanding,” Miller said. “Our hope is that by guiding this discussion in a positive way at each level, we will help decrease stigma and support a true inclusion experience – where more and more students know someone with a diagnosis, they can support each other, and no one sits alone.”

Schlossberg, who has been very public about his own successful fight against depression, said a key goal of the legislative effort is erasing stigmas associated with disabilities and mental illness.

“Stigma isn’t just some abstract, icky feeling. It has concrete, long-term damaging effects on a person’s ability to learn, become employed and build long-lasting relationships,” Schlossberg said. “This legislation would give schools the opportunity to help students learn about mental health and mental illness, and numerous studies have shown that anti-stigma efforts can dramatically improve views of mental illness that individuals have towards others and themselves.

“As such, this legislation can make a real, positive difference in the lives of the mentally ill and those around them.”

Miller and Schlossberg are currently seeking other co-sponsors for their bill, which they hope to introduce soon.