“The younger school-age kids are more anxious about separation from their parents and caregivers,” child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Ujjwal Ramtekkar at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, told NPR. “They’re worried about getting sick,” or their parents getting sick.
For teens, the challenges can be somewhat different, according to Ramtekkar. Most teenagers are struggling with social and academic anxiety, he said, as most are worried about socializing with their peers again and adapting to full-time in-person learning.
The new law is designed to help kids get care
With the new law in Illinois, Hernandez says students will have more of an opportunity to get the care they need.
“I am really excited for this. I think it will help students, parents and teachers, and can help them understand what’s going on in their students’ lives,” Hernandez said.
Once a student requests a second mental health day, a school counselor will reach out to their family and the student may be referred to get professional help, according to the bill.
Hernandez says that after students take their second mental health day, they should understand that a conversation with an adult is needed about whatever it is they’re going through.
“Many students are going through a lot mentally and emotionally and they need support,” Hernandez said.
Several states have taken similar steps
School districts across Illinois will have until the end of the year to come up with a specific plan to execute the new law ahead of its effective date in January.
Illinois joins states such as Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Oregon and Virginia that have passed similar bills over the last two years allowing students to be absent from school due to mental or behavioral health reasons, according to The New York Times.