SAINT PAUL – Tuesday, Governor Tim Walz signed bipartisan legislation authored by Rep. Kelly Moller (DFL – Shoreview) into law which would require all licensed teachers to receive mental health training. Currently, only teachers in licensure Tiers 3 and 4 – the most experienced teachers – are required to receive mental health training upon renewal of their license. The provision was included as part of the 2020 Education Policy bill.
“Other than their homes, students spend more time in school than anywhere else. It’s only appropriate that their teachers are properly equipped to recognize when students are struggling,” Rep. Moller said. “Suicide has impacted our family with one of my son’s friends taking his own life. No community, classroom, or family should have to experience this heartbreak. The training required by this bill is just one part of the equation, and we will keep working to implement a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention in our state.”
Under Rep. Moller’s legislation, the training requirement would expand to all classroom teachers to help them more effectively understand key warning signs of mental illness, learn suicide prevention best practices, and over the long-term, develop a more in-depth understanding of trauma.
The legislative initiative to strengthen school-based mental health support was launched during a State Capitol news conference in March. During the event, Chief Brian Podany of the Blaine Police Department noted six students in the Blaine area had taken their lives to that point in the previous school year.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, providing free and confidential support for people in distress with prevention and crisis resources, is 1-800-273-8255. In Minnesota, help is available via the Crisis Text Line by texting “MN” to 741741.