SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Rachel Ventura advanced legislation aimed at easing the growing stress that students face in classrooms, prioritizing their physical and emotional well-being to enhance focus and reduce anxiety during school hours.

“Purposeful relaxation time will empower students to develop effective stress and anxiety management strategies,” said Ventura (D-Joliet). “As both a parent and mental health advocate I strongly believe that allocating at least 20 minutes per week for students to unwind and prioritize their mental health will alleviate the constant pressure to engage in mental tasks, leading to improved academic performance.”

Senate Bill 2872 would provide instruction for school districts on relaxation activities, such as mindful-based movements, yoga, stretching, meditation, breathing exercises, guided relaxation techniques, quiet time, walking, in-person conversation, and other stress-relieving activities, once a week for 20 minutes, in addition to recess, to enhance physical and emotional health.

Statistics from the American Psychological Association show that 4.1 million children in the U.S. between the ages of 3 and 17 years old have been diagnosed with anxiety. In Illinois alone, 145,000 children between the ages of 12-17 have depression.

The measure would allow a school district to partner with a local community-based organization to provide the activities. Additionally, if a school district wishes, the activities could take place in a physical education class, social-emotional learning class, student-support or advisory class, or as part of another class, including a new class, providing ample opportunities and flexibility for schools to adopt.

"We have all heard stories of teens struggling with mental health problems, especially as they progress through high school. The prevalence of this issue should be enough to drive this home: kids need new tools to maintain emotional stability," said State Representative Laura Faver Dias (D-Grayslake). "A consistent state of mind is the foundation to being happy and taking advantage of a good education, as well as finding success while working in later years. This measure represents substantive progress towards imparting that stability."

Senate Bill 2872 passed the House on Thursday and now heads to the governor for further consideration.