Mental Health Training and House Bill 4658

mental health word cloud

mental health word cloud

Holley Law, staff writer

Mental health is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.  As there are many types of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, teachers are being trained to see these illnesses through signs given off by a student; this training is now required by House Bill 4658. Joliet West is training staff and providing extra help to students who need it.

The House Bill states that a school board is required “to adopt and implement a policy on how to recognize mental health issues and how to properly address them.” Teachers would be receiving training every 2 years, regarding the identification and recommended courses of action for mental health issues. All teachers K-12 will be receiving the training rather than just teachers K-7.  The training will help identify warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior in children and teens.

Ms. Burroughs, a staff member at Joliet West, states that “ we are all being trained.” [Joliet West staff is following this bill and is making efforts to help students by providing a Behavioral Health Team (BHT)]. On the BHT there is a team of multiple individuals including social workers, Dean Chally, Mrs. Fitzgerald, Mr. Wilde. This team meets weekly and anyone can refer a person who they think needs help. When the referral is made, they decide upon what is best that will help the student as well. They will do things like suggest a support group, have individual counseling, advisory placement, substance abuse assessment, and have the student see social workers, guidance counselors, and suggested groups and agencies. These agencies can include Guardian Angel Home, Aunt Marthus, Will County Mental Health. 

Dr. Gibson the Principal of Joliet West, states that “with regards to mental illness awareness one, in addition to that we have more of face to face training as well.” [There are online training and in-person training as well] From speaking with her it can be concluded that the training is to also help with emotional issues as well. “We do whole staff training… the ones done for the whole staff are done during faculty meetings that staff are required to attend once a month,” said Gibson. There is also training the school goes through when emotional control is conducted through the use of medication as well. There are steps that they take if someone that thinks they may be harming themselves, to have the student at the best they can possibly help with as well. The training that they take overlaps with other training as well.

This bill will not have a fiscal impact on the state board of education either, and this bill also does not create a state mandate. The bill took effect on July 1, 2018.