Illinois has become the latest state to embrace a new philosophy on the health of students: mental health days. Starting in January, students in the state will be able to take five such days off a year, with no need for a doctor's note, reports NPR. The move is driven by the pandemic. "Many students feel stressed, and have developed anxiety and depression because they’re not able to see teachers and friends, and may have lower grades due to remote learning," says State Rep. Barbara Hernandez, a co-sponsor of the legislation. The law covers students ages 6 to 17, and it stipulates that students who use two or more of the days be directed to school-supported help services, per USA Today.
Both stories cite stats from the CDC showing that ER visits by children related to mental health rose sharply in 2020. For ages 5 to 11, visits were up 24% compared to the previous year, and for ages 12 to 17, the spike was 31%. Even before the pandemic, diagnoses of anxiety and depression were on the rise among those under 17, notes USA Today. Other states already have put mental health days into place, including Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Virginia, per the New York Times. (Read more mental health stories.)