SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) passed legislation out of the Illinois Senate Thursday to ensure the mental health needs of school children are met.
House Bill 576 gives students the opportunity to take days off school to focus on their mental health without facing disciplinary action. The proposal comes as suicidal thoughts and mental health struggles among teens continues to rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rates of suicide in young people increased 56% from 2007 to 2017.
“Students experiencing mental health struggles need to know that they will not be disciplined for attending to their mental health.” Martwick said. “Giving students the opportunity to make up their work allows them to stay on track and not feel the pressure of falling behind.”
Under the measure, public school students would be able to take excused absence days to prioritize their mental or behavioral health. Students who are granted an excused absence would be able to make up all work missed.
“It is important to remove barriers to students getting help when they need it,” Martwick said. “After all, mental health is every bit as important as physical health.”
HB 576 now returns to the House for further consideration.