The Illinois General Assembly passed and Governor J.B. Prtizker recently signed the student mental health law to go into effect January 2022.
Students between ages of 7 – 17 now will be allowed five excused mental health days a year that do not require a signed note from a doctor. After using their second mental health day, students may be referred to school staff for professional help.
State Sen. Robert Martwick, who sponsored the bill, said it was intended to make sure that students are able to deal with issues they are having mentally.
“This bill removes the stigma and allows students to prioritize their mental health and stability,” Martwick told Springfield press.
Martwick wants to provide students with days that would benefit their mental health, while also giving the opportunity to make up missed work from school.
BHS counselor Alicia Gomory said that being referred to the school counselor from use of the mental health days can be beneficial.
“This provides counselors with an opportunity to assist students overcoming obstacles we may not otherwise know they are privately dealing with,” she said.
Gomory said one’s mental health and academic performance are both important. Students should contact their counselor with any questions or concerns, she said.
BHS sophomore Joselyn Lopez, said it’s about time students were given these mental health days.
“It would definitely have benefitted me with everything through quarantine,” she said. “Teenagers aren’t in the best mental state, and sometimes just need a break.”
Math teacher Jeff Edelman was also for the benefits these days could give students.
“I think every student, every person, deserves mental health days,” he said. “The fact that students are being given the chance is great.”
However, he said he had a slight concern that students would us these days to get caught up rather than for the intended purpose.
Senior Molly Smith mentioned the same issue.
“I can definitely see students taking advantage of these days and not using them for what they’re being given for,” she said. “Sometimes kids need a break away from toxic environments.”
The new mental health days are set to go into effect on January 1.