JBT4PLAINFIELD – Illinois parents, school counselors and teachers will have additional resources to help students struggling with mental and emotional issues, thanks to a law championed by State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is a chief-cosponsor of House Bill 907, which requires the Department of Human Services to maintain a resources page on its website with mental health resources related to bullying and school shootings to ensure this information is readily available. It was signed into law on July 12, 2019.

“Mental stresses affect all of us,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Parents, educators and school counselors need to be equipped with the tools to help students develop life-long skills to combat and deal with mental illness in a healthy way.” 

DHS’s current website does not contain information directly targeted at teachers, parents, or school counselors regarding bullying and school shootings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 1 in 5 children in the U.S. currently have, or at some stage have had, a debilitating mental illness. Fifty percent of mental illness begins by the age of 14, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Bertino-Tarrant reiterates the importance of updating the way the state distributes information to ensure it is in line with the way Illinois residents prefer information.

“It makes sense for us to share this vital resource online,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “As a state, we need to update the way the state shares information to optimize access.”

The measure was supported by the Community Behavioral Health Association, DHS, Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities and National Association of Social Workers.

The bipartisan law goes into effect immediately. The agency has started work on getting the site launched as soon as possible.

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