Starting in January, students in Illinois will be able to take up to five mental health days off of school. A bill signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker allows students to take off mental health days from school, without having to provide a doctor’s note and with the ability to do catch-up work in their own time.
State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, who co-sponsored the bill, said, “Having this now for all students across the state will be really beneficial, especially with what’s going on with COVID. 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.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saw a 24% increase in mental health emergency visits in children from 5 to 11 years old, and a 31% increase in children from 12 to 17 years old. These mental health cases have mostly arrived as younger children are experiencing more anxiety over being separated from their parents, as well as the fear of getting sick of their parents getting sick. Teens are also showing more mental health problems from isolation and the fear of joining their peers again.
This law was put into place to help these children get the mental health care that they need, showing them that their mental needs are a priority.
Hernandez said, “Many students are going through a lot mentally and emotionally, and they need support.”
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