ALBANY, N.Y. — New York’s schools will have to teach about mental health in their state-mandated health classes in two years.

The 40-year-old mandate for health education already specifically requires teaching about alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and the prevention and detection of cancers.

Sponsors say the new curriculum will increase the likelihood that students recognize the signs of mental illness in themselves and others and seek help when it’s needed.

They say many students with emotional or behavioral disorders drop out of high school.

A federally funded study has estimated that half of Americans will meet the criteria for a mental disorder sometime in their lives, with the first onset usually in childhood or adolescence.

The law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo takes effect in July 2018.

This story has been corrected to show the law takes effect in two years, not next year.