IL Advocates Thank Koehler, West on Student Mental Health First Aid Bill Approval

(Springfield, IL) – Today, the Illinois State House approved, 115-0, a mental health first aid plan to help Illinois school children who may be contemplating suicide.

The legislation, SB1731, a trailer bill to HB4658, which passed last year, requires all licensed school personnel and administrators who work with pupils in kindergarten through grade 12 to be trained, at least once every 2 years, on the current best practices for mental health issues. The new measureprovides further instruction on the type of program that can satisfy the teachers in-service training requirements. The bill passed the Senate last month, 53-0.

“We applaud both State Senator David Koehler (D-46, Edwards) and State Representative Maurice West (D-67, Rockford) for championing this legislation,” said Sara Howe, Chief Executive Officer, Illinois Association for Behavioral Health. “Mental Health First Aid gives teachers, law enforcement, and average citizens the tools they need to help students who may be facing a behavioral health crisis, such as suicidal thoughts.”

The bill recommends the use of the Mental Health First Aid training program, which is administered by certified instructors who are trained by a national association recognized as an authority in behavioral health. Illinois already has a Mental Health First Aid training infrastructure with over 63,000 trained First Aiders and close to 600 certified instructors in-state.

“Too often mental health and substance use issues end in tragedy, such as suicide,” said West. “But by training educators, law enforcement, first responders, and other members of the public who deal with vulnerable populations, including youth, we can provide those in need the opportunity to receive timely professional help.”

The bill now moves to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk for his consideration.