Mental Illness Awareness Week: How are students coping with stress?

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A patient walks on a corridor of the Rouvray psychiatric hospital, in Rouen, western France, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. Lockdowns that France has used to fight the coronavirus have come at considerable cost to mental health. Surveying points to a surge of depression most acute among people without work, in financial hardship and young adults. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

BARTONVILLE, Ill. (WMBD) — October 3-9 is Mental Illness Awareness Week and the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) has a new campaign theme this year: “Together for Mental Health.”

The yearly campaign aims to raise awareness about mental illness, fight discrimination, and provide support.

NAMI reported that one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, and one in six children experience a mental disorder each year.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported emergency mental health visits rose by over 20 percent for children back in April 2020.

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill giving Illinois students up to five “mental health days,” or excused absences from school for mental health. This bill goes into effect Jan. 2022.

Dr. Lora Haas, Director of Special Education at the Special Education Association of Peoria County (SEAPCO), said many school districts she works with reported an increase in mental health crises, or simply mental health needs, among their students.

She said the new legislation is a good step forward.

“I think it’s a good thing that they recognize that students were under stress,” Haas said. That means that somebody was talking and saying ‘you know what? it was hard last year, and our kids are very much dealing with things they’ve never dealt with before.'”

She said an open dialogue between teachers, parents, and especially students is critical to solving issues related to mental health.

“I always appreciated when a student told me how they were feeling, what was going on so then I could adjust how I would respond. So I would tell any student to be as open and honest as they feel comfortable,” Haas said.

Mental Health Resources for Children:

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