Focusing on children’s mental health

Illinois Capitol News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– A newly signed bill is slated to improve the mental health of children around the state.

The new law will require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to pilot an online resource page for parents, teachers and counselors. Lawmakers said the site will have information to help prevent bullying and school shootings. Behavioral experts said resources like this are important to have in this digital age.

“The bullying doesn’t just happen at school. It’s always happening and that is something new that teachers and parents are having to deal with. I think they are not always equipped to do that without having additional support and resources.” Jonathan Posner of Memorial Behavioral Health Springfield Children’s Center.

Lawmakers say the goal is to make sure students are better protected.The law takes effect immediately. DHS hopes to have the website functioning this upcoming school year.

“It should be up and running with some intentional messaging going out during National Bullying Prevention month in October, we definitely want to tie National Bullying Prevention Month in with the rollout and kick off of the website and we definitely also want to have stuff available for students, parents teachers, and support staff before school starts,” said Lisa Betz, Deputy Director of Child and Adolescent Services for DHS’s Mental Health Division.

Betz said the agency is currently putting a workgroup together to collaborate with system and agency partners to make sure children receive the help they need. “What we are hoping is a goal for this website is that it will give folks additional resources to be able to work on social emotional behavioral skills for students as well as have some additional supports in place to help parents or teachers to support a student when a need has been identified. And know when it’s important to to make that next step and make a referral and actually seek additional services for the child,” said Betz.

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