Bill would allow school employees to use sick leave for mental health

Bill would give teachers more mental health days
Bill would give teachers more mental health days(WGEM)
Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 4:36 AM CDT
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EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the bill would give teachers and employees five dedicated mental health days. That information came from an earlier version of the bill. The updated bill adds mental or behavioral health to the school code’s sick leave policy.

QUINCY (WGEM) - A bill that has passed both chambers of the Illinois legislature would give teachers and other school employees time off to take care of their mental health.

If signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, HB3914 would allow all full-time school employees to use paid sick days for mental or behavioral health if a state-licensed mental health professional provides a note.

This is something they are already doing at Quincy Public Schools, and QPS personnel director Lisa Otten said they’re noticing more teachers taking advantage of those services.

She said the district also offers teachers three free counseling sessions through their insurance plans.

“More of our staff members are using this service, probably because of the mental health needs right now with post-COVID,” she said. “Our families and staff have been through a lot so we are noticing an uptick in of the staff that are using the free counseling services.”

Otten added anything that can be done to support teachers’ mental health is worth doing.

Teacher Brandi Many said when COVID-19 hit, it was a tough adjustment switching to online classes, and then to hybrid classes.

She said this bill is a great opportunity to give teachers relief.

“It would be an amazing benefit for staff that are already stressed out coming off of COVID and the last couple of years and the immense amount of changes that has taken place in schools at that time,” Many said.

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