INDIANAPOLIS— On Monday, a proposal authored by State Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) that would include mental health awareness in the Indiana health education curricula and establish mental health wellness education program was approved by a vote of 26-23 by the full Senate.

“In 2015, 55 teens committed suicide which means Indiana leads the nation in incidents of teen suicide,” Sen. Mrvan said. “This bill attempts to educate Hoosier teens about mental health in order to hopefully lower this troubling statistic.”

Senate Bill (SB) 435 would require a school corporation to incorporate mental health education in their curriculum. Additionally, SB 435 would allow schools to provide mental health screenings to students with written consent of the student’s parent in order to identify at-risk youth. The Indiana Department of Education would be charged with providing resources regarding mental health wellness upon request from an interested school corporation.

“There is a clear need for this legislation. The state of Indiana is ranked 37th in access to care for mental health. The ability of our schools to teach this curriculum and better identify signs of mental health illness is the first step to improve on this statistic,” Sen. Mrvan said.

SB 435 received unanimous approval in the Senate Family and Children Services Committee and was approved by a vote of 26-23 in the full Senate. The proposal will now move to the House of Representatives for further consideration.