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Mental Health

  • Bush, Cullerton honored for protecting mental health funding

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    SPRINGFIELD – The Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois (ACMHAI) presented awards to Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) for their efforts to protect mental health funding.

    Bush and Cullerton advanced legislation last year to push for greater local government consolidation.

    During negotiations, they learned that local health boards could be caught in the crossfire of potential government consolidation plans.

    They worked diligently to ensure local mental health dollars were protected by removing Community Mental Health Authorities from potentially disastrous effects.

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    Last year as the sponsor of House Bill 229, Bush worked to ensure funding for mental health and developmentally disabled are protected.

    “Consolidating local governments is good for Illinois. It saves taxpayer dollars and reduces government bureaucracy,” Bush said. “But I refused to allow potential cuts to mental health funding in return. We must always protect our most vulnerable residents, and ensuring local mental health providers are fully funded is a key part of doing so.”

    Cullerton, chief architect of the government consolidation model used in House Bill 4501, worked with ACMHAI to make sure DuPage County’s vulnerable populations were protected from unintentional consequences.  

    “The purpose of government consolidation is to streamline processes to make sure government is working in step with the needs of the people,” Cullerton said. “Government should be efficient and effective. But when we eliminate services for our most vulnerable residents, our efforts become counterproductive. I simply cannot stand for that.”  

    ACMHAI plans to continue working with Bush and Cullerton to advocate for state mental health funding.

    "Senators Bush and Cullerton have shown great leadership in their commitment to protect the $75 million in local mental health grant funding resources generated in local counties, townships and municipalities throughout the state of Illinois,” Debbie Humphrey, ACMHAI President said. “At a time when demand for mental health and substance abuse services is dramatically increasing while funding sources are shrinking, these valuable local funds serve as an important lifeline to those seeking access to treatment."

  • Cunningham: Time to provide necessary resources to handle mental health issues

    DefendantSPRINGFIELD – Custody of defendants with mental health issues could become more streamlined and appropriate due to legislation that passed the Illinois Senate on Monday.

    “We need to provide the necessary resources to ensure the mental health of those determined to be unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity be dealt with appropriately,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago). “It will only help to keep our communities safer in the long run.”

    The legislation, House Bill 649, would create a formal process for the county sheriff and the Department of Human Services to handle custody of defendants found unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. It provides requirements regarding the evaluation and transportation of the defendant to a secure facility.

    The legislation now moves to the governor’s desk for approval.

  • Lightford: Incident at U.S. Rep. Davis’ office highlights the mental health crisis

    lightford cps 012016CHICAGO- A woman walked into U.S. Rep. Danny Davis’ office yesterday, drank out of a bottle of hand sanitizer, poured the hand sanitizer on herself and used a lighter to set herself on fire. The unfortunate incident highlights the mental health crisis in our state and across the country.

    “We need to fully fund our state’s mental health services,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood). “The story about this woman inflicting pain on herself should move us to acknowledge and support solutions for the mental health issues so many people are struggling with.”

  • McGuire questions DOC about mental health treatment, opening Joliet Treatment Center

    mcguire 050317SPRINGFIELD — Following testimony from the director of the state’s prison system, State Sen. Pat McGuire asked how the Illinois Department of Corrections is fulfilling a court order mandating it provide greater mental health treatment to inmates.

    “Illinois already has spent $17 million on construction work to transform Illinois Youth Center-Joliet from a prison for teens into a mental health facility to provide treatment to 460 adult offenders with serious mental illnesses,” said McGuire, D-Joliet, following the hearing. “But the new Joliet Treatment Center hasn’t opened yet because of the governor’s refusal to compromise on a budget.”

    A federal court ruled last year in Rasho v. Walker that the Illinois prison system must improve services to the roughly 11,000 inmates with serious mental illnesses. As part of the department’s efforts to fulfill that mandate, IDOC has committed to opening up five new treatment centers, including the former IYC-Joliet. While IDOC’s legal counsel testified that fulfilling the mandate is dependent on when the state passes a budget, McGuire said leaving inmates untreated creates a dangerous situation.

    “IDOC Director John Baldwin is sincere about treating offenders with serious mental illness, and I support him. My fear is that no budget means no treatment. That would mean these offenders grow sicker, leading to more incidents involving other offenders and prison personnel, and more risks to our communities when those offenders have served their time. I urge the governor to govern and settle on a budget,” McGuire said. “Our duty is clear. Every day we delay opening these treatment facilities puts inmates and officers at risk.”

  • Measure to provide more resources to address mental health becomes law

    FingerprintsSPRINGFIELD – Custody of defendants with mental health issues will become more streamlined due to legislation being signed into law.

    “We need to make resources readily available to ensure the mental health of anyone determined to be unfit to stand trial are dealt with appropriately,” State Senator Bill Cunningham said.

    The legislation, House Bill 649, would create a formal process for the county sheriff and the Department of Human Services to handle custody of defendants found unfit to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity. It provides requirements regarding the evaluation and transportation of the defendant to a secure facility.

  • Sentencing will consider mental illness as a mitigating factor

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    SPRINGFIELD — Responding to calls to reform the way sentencing considers a defendant’s mental state as a mitigation factor, the governor signed legislation today sponsored by State Sen. Dave Koehler.

    “Our understanding of mental illness grows in new ways all the time, and the way we apply sentencing should, too,” said Koehler, D-Peoria. “These reforms address the distinction between a defendant who has a legitimate claim to a plea of insanity and a convict with a serious mental illness.”

    The legislation adds the presence of a serious mental illness to the 15 existing mitigating factors courts can consider to possibly reduce sentencing. The measure aims to reduce the 6,000 individuals in Illinois correctional facilities with serious mental health issues.

    “Our prison system can’t serve as a de facto mental health facility, and to treat as such hurts our institutions as well as the inmates within them,” Koehler said. “I’m glad the governor has signed this into law and taken a step toward relieving that burden in a way that respects the findings of experts.”

    According to Mental Health America of Illinois (MHAI), more than 15% of people charged with crimes have a serious mental illness, but only a few dozen people are found “not guilty by reason of insanity” each year. In those cases, a person is deemed by the court not to be criminally responsible for his or her conduct due to a lack of the capacity to understand why the criminal act is wrong as a result of mental disease or defect.

    Koehler also thanked the legislation’s House sponsors, Reps. David Leitch, Jehan Gordon-Booth, and fellow Senate sponsor Senator Chuck Weaver, for their leadership in carrying the legislation.

    The legislation was House Bill 6037. It is effective immediately.