SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Children who suffer from undiagnosed emotional disorders will be able to receive extra support at school under a bill supported by state Rep. Kathleen Willis, D-Addison, that passed the House and the Senate last week.
“Children who suffer from an emotional disorder tend to not get the support they need in school, and with every passing year they fall further behind their peers,” said Willis. “This bill will help professionals to monitor the well-being of the child to make sure they get the support they need.”
Senate Bill 565 will allow parents who opt-in to include an emotional screening component to their already required screens needed before going to school. Just as children need a physical and their vaccinations, parents will be able to have their children participate in assessments to determine if there are any emotional issues that should be monitored which may hinder the educational advancement of the child. Advocates for the measure argue that mental health is just as important as physical health and can play a major role in the success of the child in the classroom. Recent epidemiological studies show that 14 to 20 percent of all school age children in the U.S. and 13 percent of preschoolers have an emotional or behavioral disorder.
“As science advances and we learn more about emotional and mental disorders, we need to make sure that our laws reflect our newfound knowledge and understanding,” said Willis. “This legislation will take what we know about the importance of mental health and it’s relation to success in the classroom and make sure all students have the resources they deserve.”
Willis is serving her second term in the Illinois General Assembly as State Representative of the 77th District, which includes O’Hare Airport and portions of Addison, Bellwood, Bensenville, Franklin Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, Northlake, Stone Park, and Wood Dale.