CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Health Education Act, the vision of a Lowcountry student and state lawmakers. Passed in the state house this week, the act is aimed at helping students who suffer with mental health.
A Lowcountry student reached out to State Representative JA Moore for help with a speech, that conversation turned into something the two never could have imagined. The two teaming up to end the stigma around students getting help with mental health issues.
“I personally have had so many of my former classmates commit suicide and mental health was a huge issue but nobody talked about it,” says Gweneth Gough, a Fort Dorchester graduate.
Impacts from mental health bringing Gough and State Representative Moore together. Moore says his brother struggled with the affects of mental health.
“He struggled all of his life and subsequently he ended up dying about five years ago and never got the help that he needed,” says Representative Moore.
The two are teaming up after realizing they shared similar stories with a drive to make a difference for South Carolina students.
“Such a stigma surrounding mental health so we were like how can we break this stigma and we thought that the best way that we could was by starting in our schools,” says Gough.
The health education act passed by the state house this week would implement changes through health science courses in South Carolina schools by adding an elective class for 7th graders and a required class for 9th graders.
“They shall revise it to include emotional, social and mental health as a part of the curriculum,” says Representative Moore.
Causes among students can vary according to Dr. Sarah Coker, a psychiatrist with Roper St. Francis. Coker says one of those causes can be transitioning from one school to another.
“To a bigger potentially school where they know less people, they’re around more people,” says Dr. Coker. “They have to learn new teachers, new spaces, places, it can be very overwhelming.”
Gough and Moore, sharing a common goal to make a difference in South Carolina schools and beyond.
“Taking the stigma off and talking about it, making sure that you have good mental health is important for every single South Carolinians,” says Representative Moore.
The legislation will go before the state board of education for officials to decide on a final curriculum before implementing it in schools across the state.