Illinois schools are a step closer to having to offer classes on mental health

Illinois schools are a step closer to having to offer classes on mental health

ILLINOIS (IRN) — The list of state mandates for local schools in Illinois looks to be growing.

An Illinois House panel has approved a plan that would require classes on mental health.

State Rep. Karina Villa, D-West Chicago, is pushing the idea. She’s a former school social worker. She said it’s important for middle school and high school students to have a basic understanding of mental health and mental health challenges.

“A student once said ‘Ms. Villa, I finally know what’s wrong with me. I have depression,’ And he just was in tears. He said ‘I need you to call my parents and I need you to tell them what I have,’ ” Villa told the panel. “This is the voice of what this bill will be able to do.”

State Rep. Deb Conroy, D-Villa Park, said teaching young people about their emotional and mental health is just as important as teaching them about their physical health.

“Our youth need to grow up understanding that their brain health is as important as their heart, their lungs, their liver,” Conroy said. “And they need to take care of it.”

Lawmakers unanimously approved the idea.

But there’s always some push back in Springfield to these kinds of plans. Local districts, which have locally elected boards, have fought for years against additional state mandates, especially those that come with added costs but no additional state funding.

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