CHICAGO – Continuing her efforts to enact policies to address mental health wellness and suicide prevention, state Rep. Fran Hurley, D-Chicago, recently passed legislation that directs school districts to offer specialized training programs to employees, to better assist students who are experiencing mental health distress or disorders.
“Understanding mental health and wellness is very important, especially during adolescence, when young people are experiencing many changes in their lives and may not know how to cope,” said Hurley. “Youth may not know where to turn when they need help. Educators and other school personnel may recognize when there is a problem, but they may not know how to address the situation.”
Hurley recently attended the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Suicide Prevention and Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Policy conference, where Senate Bill 1731 and the work Illinois is doing to destigmatize mental health was highlighted. Serving as the chairperson of the Illinois House Human Services committee, Hurley has made mental health initiatives a top priority during her time in Springfield. Hurley worked to pass Senate Bill 1731, an initiative of the Illinois Association of Behavioral Health. This new law will allow school districts to use the Department of Human Services’ Illinois Mental Health First Aid training program to prepare employees on how to identify and take action for mental health issues.
Hurley’s measure follows legislation passed last year that required all licensed school personnel and administrators who work with students between kindergarten and 12th grade to be trained at least once every two years to identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior. Under the training program, certified instructors provide employees examples of best practices to address mental health concerns, as well as how to refer cases to professional assistance if needed.
“Suicide prevention and helping young people work through mental health issues in a safe, school environment will help our students continue to succeed and grow into the productive members of society they are meant to be,” continued Hurley. “I am proud to have passed this new law, which will give school employees the tools they need to help students in crisis.”
For more information, contact Hurley’s constituent service office at 773-445-8128 or RepFranHurley@gmail.com.