Illinois legislators propose giving students 5 ‘mental health days’ per year

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois lawmakers are considering a bill which would allow students to take up to five mental health days off per year.

SB2473 was introduced in January and would require public schools to give students time off for mental and behavioral issues, in addition to standard “sick time.”

Sen. Rob Martwick (D-Chicago), who introduced the bill, said, “It just is acknowledging the fact that as we have a greater and greater understanding of the challenges that everyone faces in society and mental health, but especially young children – we’ve seen increases in suicide rates, problems with bullying either physically or on social media – and we see that a lot of children are having trouble coping with that.”

According to WTTW, suicides in Illinois accounted for 11.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2019.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the national suicide rate among those aged 10-24 jumped more than 50 percent between 2007 and 2017.

“We’re sort of acknowledging everyone has challenges,” Martwick said, adding, “… and my hope would be not that these become extra days off for kids to play video games, but that if they’re having challenges with bullying or mental health that they have the ability to seek out help, whatever that form may be in, to address those problems so they can get back to school and be a productive student.”

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