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Making mental health education mandatory: Bill proposed by advocating teen

Robert Barsel
Posted at 11:19 PM, Mar 22, 2023

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — When it comes to getting the necessary help for our children suffering from mental health problems Nevada ranks last in the country in resources, but one local student has teamed up with lawmakers to change all that.

Since he was young, Robert Barsel has struggled with mental health issues.

"When I was 5, my father died from a sudden heart attack and because of that, I was put in individual therapy and group therapy and I found that everything that learned about mental health came from outside of the classroom," said 17-year-old Barsel.

According to the Children's Advocacy Alliance, in a 2020 report, Nevada scored a D+ for children's mental health. It also found 71% of youths in the state who experienced major depressive episodes, never got treatment. Researchers evaluated the state based on depression, substance abuse, developmental disorders, suicide, and access to care. However, the 17-year-old is not letting the lack of available resources stop him from taking action and helping his peers.

Barsel proposed Senate Bill 313 (SB313). If passed it would require mental health education in grades k - 12 in all Nevada schools as well as train teachers on the courses.

"With kindergarten, you can start with lessons like teaching how to identify different emotions through both physical responses and the way you feel and past experiences and then when you get into older years you can talk about how we stigmatize mental health."

The bill was introduced in the Nevada legislature on Monday by State Sen. Roberta Lange. It is set to be heard by the senate's education committee on April 3rd. Barsel will testify during the hearing and says he's hopeful.

"There is only this type of curriculum in four states and wherever I go I would like to bring something similar, that way kids everywhere can get these resources," said Barel.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for help.