Illinois students to receive 5 mental health days from school

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — Students in Illinois will soon be able to take up to five mental health days off school.

A new bill signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last month will allow for five excused absences from school without the need for a doctor’s note beginning in January, according to NPR.

Strains of the coronavirus pandemic that have been placed on children throughout the country is a major reason for the bill being signed.

“Many students feel stressed and have developed anxiety and depression because they’re not able to see teachers and friends, and may have lower grades due to remote learning,” said State Representative Barbara Hernandez.

The hope for this bill is for children to get the help they need. At the beginning of the pandemic, mental health emergencies skyrocketed from months March through May.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental health emergencies increased 24% for kids aged 5 to 11 years old and 31% for kids 12 to 17.

Hernandez, who’s also a co-sponsor for the bill, believes these five mental health days could potentially be the answer to kids struggling with mental health.

“I am really excited for this. I think it will help students, parents and teachers, and can help them understand what’s going on in their students’ lives,” Hernandez stated.

A school counselor will reach out to the student’s family once a second mental health day is requested, and the student may be referred to get professional help, according to the bill.

After students take their second mental health day, Hernandez said they should understand that a conversation with an adult is needed about whatever it is they’re going through.

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“Many students are going through a lot mentally and emotionally, and they need support,” Hernandez said.

The new Illinois mental health bill will be going into effect in January 2022.

NewsNation affiliate WTVO contributed to this report.


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