Bay District Schools implementing state-mandated mental health curriculum

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Parents may have received a letter recently from Bay District Schools explaining the new state mandated mental health curriculum to be implemented in schools this school year.

For more information on the district's plan for the curriculum, visit the Bay District Schools website and check under "Mental Health." (GOOGLE)

"There includes several components, including mental and emotional health awareness education, substance use and abuse prevention education, and child trafficking awareness education," said Kara Mulkusky, the director of student services at Bay District Schools.

Each age group will have the material administered in different ways during the school day. Elementary school students already received substance use and abuse education during Red Ribbon week.

"We continue to work on finding the perfect plan to deliver the very sensitive topics about child trafficking education and we're planning to implement that sometime this spring," Mulkusky explained about the elementary school program.

Middle school students will use an online program through EverFi and high school students will have a face-to-face program through the Florida Department of Health - Bay County's Freedom 180 team.

"It's very structured and scripted, and it's delivered to be trauma sensitive in nature, and it really promotes positive social-emotional health," said Mulkusky about the high school program.

The Freedom 180 team has been in local schools since 2001 educating students on sensitive topics, so they were ready to help with this new curriculum.

"I think we're the lucky agency that has the curriculum in place, and we were able to compliment the curriculum we had to be able to help Bay District Schools provide this mandate," said Sandon Speedling, the administrator & health officer for the Florida Department of Health - Bay County.

While this mandate isn't directly tied to Hurricane Michael, district officials say it will help with mental health issues needing to be addressed because of it.

"The timing of the rule definitely compliments everything that our students have been experiencing post Hurricane Michael. If there was anytime that it would be perfect to help support our students with their emotional recovery since Hurricane Michael, this was the perfect time," said Mulkusky.

For more information on the district's plan for the curriculum, visit the Bay District Schools website and check under "Mental Health."

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