The Wellness Checks in Schools Program Act will go into effect in the fall in Illinois.
Illinois House Bill 4343 will require yearly mental health screenings for 2 million school students in the state which:
Creates the Wellness Checks in Schools Program Act. Provides that subject to appropriation, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services shall establish the Wellness Checks in Schools Collaborative for school districts that wish to implement wellness checks to identify students in grades 7 through 12 who are at risk of mental health conditions, including depression or other mental health issues.
The Center Square reports that Mark Klausner, executive director of West 40 in West Cook County, said, “Schools will have to find a screening model and train people to administer the screenings. The Illinois State Board of Education is currently working through the challenge of exactly how to get a mental health screening process up and running.”
Ideally, a screening session will be a 15-minute, one-on-one conversation between a trained social worker or counselor and a student. Trained screeners have more success in finding problems when they can look for body language and cues, Klausner said.
Anxiety and depression are triggers for behavioral problems. Screeners may find a child who is concerned about coming to school. The child may think that other students are looking at him or talking about him, indicating a higher-than-normal level of anxiety.
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