Public schools in the Sunshine State will offer a new kind of class soon, based on a growing social issue.Under a mandate that the state’s Board of Education passed on Wednesday, schools will be required to deliver a minimum of five hours of mental health instruction beginning in 6th grade.Education officials proposed the change to the curriculum last month, after discussing it with First Lady Casey DeSantis. She has prioritized the problem on her agenda.The courses will be geared toward helping students to identify signs and symptoms of mental illness, as well as toward finding resources for battling depression or other issues. They will also learn how to help their peers who may be dealing with a mental health disorder.According to Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran, “We are going to reinvent school-based mental-health awareness in Florida, and we will be the number one state in the nation in terms of mental health outreach and school safety, all because of the governor’s and First Lady’s remarkable vision.” He adds that additional changes related to mental health awareness are planned, but did not elaborate.School districts around the state will have the ability to choose the kinds of classes their students will be required to take. Topics to be addressed will include cyberbullying, suicide prevention, and the impact of substance abuse.Mrs. DeSantis says, “We know that 50 percent of all mental illness cases begin by age 14, so we are being proactive in our commitment to provide our kids with the necessary tools to see them through their successes and challenges. Providing mental health instruction is another important step forward in supporting our families.”The implementation date for the new courses, as well as any potential schedule changes needed to fit them in with existing classes, are still being worked out, a Board of Education spokesperson said.