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Governor signs mental health law inspired by Bartonville family’s tragedy

koehler mntl hlthSPRINGFIELD – The governor signed a law that would give college students the authority to allow their university to share mental health information with their parents today.

It was inspired by the Predmore family of Bartonville, who tragically lost their son Chris to suicide last year. Under previous Illinois 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 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.

“If I had a child in college who was considering committing suicide, I would want to know,” said Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), who sponsored the legislation in the Illinois Senate. “For many students, college is a time of transition when mental illnesses first manifest themselves.”

The law gives 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.

“Yes, college students are adults who deserve privacy rights,” Koehler said. “But many are living on their own for the first time and still rely on their parents for advice and support. This law respects student privacy while still allowing parents to be involved. It also could start important conversations about mental illness.”

The measure, House Bill 3599, was sponsored by state Representative Dave Leitch (R-Peoria) in the Illinois House. It will take effect next year.

Sen. David Koehler


46th District

Years served:
Appointed December 2006; Elected 2008 - Present

Committee assignments: Agriculture (Vice-Chairperson); Local Government; Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Environment and Conservation (Chairperson); Labor.

Biography: Born and raised in South Dakota, moved to Peoria in 1978; B.A., Yankton College, 1971; M.A. in divinity, United Theological Seminary, 1974; staff member, National Farm Worker Ministry; community organizer and program manager, Peoria Friendship House; executive director, Peoria Area Labor Management Council; president, Labor Management Cooperative Health Programs Inc.; Peoria County Board member, 1982-88; Peoria City Council member, 1989-97 (mayor pro tem, 1993-94); first elected to Senate in 2006; married with three daughters, a son-in-law and two granddaughters.

Associated Representative(s): Michael Unes, Jehan A. Gordon-Booth