Illinois is currently the only state in the Midwest that allows its students to take a certain number of mental health days, or excused absences allocated to maintain students' health. This is a recent happening in Illinois, as well as across the country, with mental health being discussed more and more of late.
As reported by NPR, "The state allows K-12 students in public schools to have five excused absences per school year for mental health reasons, another example of the growing acknowledgment among lawmakers that emotional and physical health are intertwined. The new policy, which went into effect at the beginning of 2022, passed both chambers of the state legislature unanimously."
"Students are able to take a number of excused absences from school — varying among states and their respective laws — due to mental or behavioral problems, similar to a sick day.
There are currently 12 states where students are legally allowed to take mental health days: Washington, California, Illinois, Maine, Virginia, Colorado, Oregon, Connecticut, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Kentucky. Additionally, there are five states where bills for mental health days have been proposed, including Florida, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania," reports People.
As mental health days for students is a relatively new legislative reality, people in the Midwest can look to the bi-partisan progress within the Illinois government, and potentially use the legislation as a model to implement into other Midwestern states as well.