News Local/State

Illinois To Create Online Database Of Mental Health Resources For Students, Parents And School Staff

an empty classroom with red chairs

Steven Brewer (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A new state law directs the Illinois Department of Human Services to create an online database with mental health resources that parents and school staff can use to help students. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the legislation into law earlier this month. The law specifically highlights resources related to bullying and school shootings.

Lisa Betz, the deputy director of child and adolescent services for DHS’s division of mental health, said the online database will be accessible to the public. Initially, the site will include national resources collected and vetted by DHS and other state agencies, she said.

Eventually, Betz said, the department hopes to respond to questions from parents and school staff members.

"So, maybe even have a Q and A page where we have questions and answers, but then also provide resources based on the questions that are asked,” Betz said.

Matt Liberatore, president of the Illinois School Counselors Association, said school districts already collect and maintain their own databases of mental-health-related resources.

“But what makes this interesting, and something that we're supportive of, is the fact that we can be sharing resources with other districts and see other what resources other districts are using to potentially get new ideas or new interventions or new supports,” he said.

Liberatore said he also hopes DHS will provide a way for educators and service providers to weigh in on the resources that are being offered through the site. 

“It could have some type of reviewing or rating type factor so that other people can see what others are saying and feel about that resource,” he said.

Betz said input from school counselors and other school staff members will provide an opportunity for DHS to work with them on what kind of information the site provides. 

Though the law specifically mentions bullying and school shootings, Betz expects the database to offer a wide-ranging set of resources. 

“I think as the website evolves, it'll afford us the opportunity to ensure that natural disasters and other traumatic events that are sadly experienced by Illinois students also have an opportunity to be addressed,” she said. 

Betz said the online database will be evolving resource for the state. 

“I believe the most informed databases are... live databases, so they're constantly changing and evolving based on need,” she said.

The law takes effect immediately; Betz said the agency is working to get the site launched as soon as possible.

Follow Lee Gaines on Twitter: @LeeVGaines