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Ill. public school students allowed up to 5 mental health days starting in 2022

Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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CARTERVILLE, Ill. (KFVS) - A new Illinois law allows public school students to take mental health days.

Students can get up to five in a given school year.

The bill’s sponsor said it’s just one way of letting students know it’s ok for them to seek the help they need.

“It can’t be that I just wake up this morning as a student and I don’t feel like going to school so I’m not going to,” said Vienna School Superintendent Joshua Stafford.

Stafford said mental health days aren’t freebies for students.

“If they hit two of those days, that triggers a response from the school that’s required by that same statute that we have to get mental health professionals involved in whatever that student is struggling with,” he said.

Stafford believes the new law helps students suffering from mental health issues.

“To ensure they get the help that they need to resolve whatever those mental health issues are so they can focus back on life and schoolwork and family and sports and things that they are involved in,” Stafford explained.

Herrin School District Superintendent Nathaniel Wilson is concerned about the number of days students can take off for mental days.

“For our students, at any grade level, to have five mental health days, my first concern is that’s a lot of days to be missed. Five days, if a student truly has, though, a mental health issue and a mental health crisis or something of that, obviously, we want to support that student,” said Wilson,

The governor signed the measure into law this week. Wilson said he is still reviewing the new legislation.

“We’re going to make the best of the situation and make it something meaningful and helpful to our students for sure,” he said.

Stafford wants students to take the mental health days for the right reasons.

“If we just give students cart blanc to take mental health days, as almost like, almost they were vacation days right. I just don’t want to get out of bed because I don’t want to face the world, well, that’s not good for mental health either, that has exactly the opposite impact of what I think the intent of this legislation is,” said Stafford.

Governor JB Pritzker signed the bill aiming at increasing mental health awareness.

The new law takes effect in January 2022.

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