Illinois continues to see an increase in youth experiencing at least one major depressive episode in the last year. Despite this grim reality, Illinois is ahead of the rest of the country and ranked 12th in youth mental health care by Mental Health America.

Positive Policy Components Already in Place:

  • Social and Emotional Learning from CASEL Illinois has fully developed and enacted K-12 social-emotional learning standards
  • Suicide Prevention Training for Teachers and Administrators 105 ILCS 5/10-22.39 At least 2 hours of training on suicide prevention, identification, and referral required for school teachers, administrators, and staff.
  • Mental Health Training for Teachers and Administrators 105 ILCS 5/10-22.39 Evidence-based mental health training for teachers and administrators required every two years.
  • Non-exclusionary Discipline Practices
    • 105 ILCS 5/10-22.6 Schools are required to use non-exclusionary discipline practices and must meet with parents and/or guardians prior to using out-of-school suspensions or expulsions.
    • 105 ILCS 5/27-23.7 Provides that alternatives to exclusionary discipline that increase student accountability be used to address incidents of bullying based on religion, race, ethnicity, or any other category that is identified in the Illinois Human Rights Act.
  • Mental Health Excused Absences 105 ILCS 5/26-1 All students are granted up to 5 days of excused absences in any school year for mental health reasons.
  • Mental Health Resources Database 20 ILCS 1705/76 The Department of Human Services is required to create and maintain an online mental health database and resource page for school personnel and to encourage data sharing among administrators, teachers, and school resource officers.
  • State-level Coordination Mechanism 405 ILCS 49/5 The state has established a School Mental Health Taskforce that brings multiple state agencies together to jointly address student mental health.
  • Other relevant legislation: 215 ILCS 5/370c.1 In 2021, Illinois passed gold-standard mental health parity reform with unanimous support and strong bipartisan support in both the state House and the Senate, requiring insurance companies to provide equal coverage for mental health and physical health treatment and care.


2022 Policy Opportunities

  • Yearly Well-Being Checks – pass legislation to promote at least yearly student, teacher, and staff well-being checks to identify early signs of mental illness and substance misuse and to provide referrals to appropriate services.
  • Student Training – mandate provision of age-appropriate training on help-seeking behaviors for mental health and substance user concerns and peer-to-peer supports.
  • Increase Access to Care – boost access to care through partnerships with community-level service providers and by creating incentives to provide services on campus.
  • Pipeline of School Mental Health Professionals – create incentive for incoming students and higher education systems to expand the pipeline of diverse mental health professionals, and establish minimum ratio requirements to ensure Illinois students and staff have adequate access to full-time, on-site or virtual, trained mental health professionals.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they text HOME to 741741.