The Florida State Board of Education recently voted to require all students in the sixth grade and up to receive five hours of mental health instruction every year. Florida may have more than its fair share of questionable legislation, but this is highly commendable.

Florida isn't the first state to mandate such courses—New York, Virginia, and Maine all passed bills requiring mental health to be part of the required curriculum last school year, and more states are sure to follow suit.

It's a huge move in the right direction—and it's about dang time.

I taught in public schools fresh out of college, and even two decades ago I saw how much of a need there was for mental health education. Today, my thoughts on the matter are much more personal. Our oldest daughter spent much of her tween and teen years struggling with a mental health disorder called emetophobia—a clinical fear of throwing up. It got to the point in her mid-teens where she had a hard time doing normal, everyday things, like eating or being around people.

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After the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain in early 2018, there was an influx of social media posts about what can be done to help prevent suicides.

Many, if not most, were posts with suicide hotline numbers and messages telling people to reach out if they are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

The CDC reported in June that U.S. suicide rates have increased more than 25% since 1999. Out of the top 10 causes of death, suicide is one of the three of those causes that are actually increasing. It's undoubtedly a serious public health problem and one that hits close to home.

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People who don’t struggle with depression can sometimes feel at a loss for how to help loved ones who do.

If you’ve never fallen into a mental hole you couldn't climb out of, it’s hard to understand how depression can be so debilitating. And when you're peering down at a loved one at the bottom of that hole, it’s hard to know how to help them out.

You can try to coach them on how to climb, but you don't understand how slippery the walls are. You can try to offer them a rope, but you don't realize that their muscles are too spent to grab it and hold on.

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