Schools and educators can address mental health in a variety of ways, ranging from academic interventions, peer-to-peer support, bully prevention programs, school counseling services, and connections to community mental health resources. But, even with all of these resources, student mental health remains a critical concern within the educational system. Students with disabilities can be at a particularly high risk for developing mental health challenges, as they often lack needed social supports that can provide some buffer to mental health difficulties. Attending to the mental health needs of all students, but particularly those with disabilities must remain a priority for school staff and families. AT FMPTIC, we encourage families to partner with their school team, address mental health concerns in their IEP planning process, and familiarize themselves with local community resources that can assist them in caring for their students.
According to ISBE, mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. It is essential to know that mental health is more than just the absence of a mental disorder or disability. Mental health is essential at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
The Illinois State Board of Education recognizes that supporting the mental/emotional well-being of our educators and our students is vitally important to supporting the vision, mission, and goals of our agency.
Illinois requires that Licensed school personnel and administrators who work with pupils in kindergarten through Grade 12 shall be trained to identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior in youth and shall be taught appropriate intervention and referral techniques.PA 101-0350, 105 ILCS 5/10-22.39: Mental Illness In-Service Training
Public Act 102-0321 (Senate Bill 1577) amends the compulsory attendance article of the School Code by allowing students to take up to five mental or behavioral health days per year. A student is not required to provide a medical note and must be given the opportunity to make up any schoolwork missed during such absences. Following the second mental health day, a student may be referred to the appropriate school personnel.
Screening, Assessment, and Support Service Can Help.
Screening, Assessment, and Support Service (SASS) is a statewide crisis program for children and youth. SASS provides intensive mental health services for children and youth who may need hospitalization for mental health care. SASS will also provide crisis intervention, linkage, and coordination of services to other community-based mental health agencies for aftercare and outpatient treatment. The SASS program's main focus is to stabilize the family and maintain the youth at home and in the community. The program has a single point of entry, the Crisis and Referral Entry Service (CARES).
The following criteria will be applied to determine eligibility based on age and insurance status:
Children and youth under the age of 18 seeking public funding for psychiatric services through the Illinois Department of Human Services
Any child or youth enrolled in Illinois Healthcare and Family Services Medicaid Program or Medicaid Managed Care Organization
Any child or youth for whom the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has legal responsibility
A SASS crisis worker will respond to the youth in crisis to complete a crisis screening and make recommendations on appropriate mental health care, which may include community-based services or inpatient hospitalization. The crisis screening can be provided in person, over the phone, or through video, as requested by the family.
Contact CARES at 800-345-9049 if you need SASS services.
The SASS program is administered by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
Reference: Mental Health. https://www.isbe.net/MentalHealth?fbclid=IwAR0dBW0C3k2aJ3bPJUylxy9VnyyTCKfXWi_AmnLVjgcVBnfcxm_MpW8J1Zo
For more resources on Mental Health in Illinois Schools please follow the link https://www.isbe.net/mentalhealth#:~:text=Legislation%20and%20Rules&text=Licensed%20school%20personnel%20and%20administrators,appropriate%20intervention%20and%20referral%20techniques.&text=is%20now%20available.