Mental illness affects 1 out of 5 people at some point in their lives, so it is sad that students can go through 12 years of school and learn nothing about mental disorders [“Cuomo must sign bill on mental health instruction,” Editorial, Aug. 19].

However, that should change. All that’s needed is for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to sign a bill to require public schools to incorporate mental health instruction into health class curricula.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The law would add the words “mental health” to the requirements. Health education is already a required part of the school curriculum and includes HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and sex education. In fact, students cannot graduate without knowing how to do breast or testicular self-examinations.

But teaching about mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder is neglected in our schools — despite the fact that mental illness can dramatically affect the ability of so many of our young people to succeed in school and life. Untreated mental illness has a devastating long-term effect on society.

Janet Susin, Lake Success

Editor’s note: The writer is president of the Queens-Nassau chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.