Koehler in the SenateA proposed law that would allow college students to sign off on their university sharing mental health information with their parents cleared the Illinois General Assembly today.

It was inspired by the Predmore family of Bartonville, who tragically lost their son Chris to suicide last year. Under current law, his college could not talk to his parents about his mental health struggles.

A number of recent studies indicate that psychological problems are a growing issue on college campuses. For example, a survey found that that 70 percent of college counseling center directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in recent years. Surveys of college students themselves have shown that depression and anxiety have skyrocketed over the past several decades – perhaps as many as a quarter or third of students meet criteria for anxiety or depression during college.

"Many college students face mental health struggles," said Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), who sponsored the legislation in the Illinois Senate. "College is a time of transition, and college students are at an age when mental illnesses first manifest themselves. All the parents I know would want to be involved if their children were dealing with serious depression or another illness."

The legislation would give newly enrolled college students the opportunity to authorize the university to share mental health records with their parents or other trusted adults. The university would only share information when students are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

"College students are adults with strong privacy rights," said Representative David Leitch (R-Peoria), who introduced the legislation in the House. "At the same time, most students are living on their own for the first time. This legislation respects privacy while still allowing parents to be involved. Even filling out the form could start beneficial conversations about mental illness."

The measure is House Bill 3599. It now goes to Governor Bruce Rauner's desk for his consideration.