Mental Health

  • Senator Fine to host Q&A to help support those struggling with mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

    mentalhealth 042220GLENVIEW – To help Illinoisans cope with anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns related to the COVID-19 outbreak, State Senator Laura Fine, joined by State Representatives Robyn Gabel and Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz, will host a Q&A focused on mental health and wellness during the pandemic.

    The Q&A will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, April 22 at 10 a.m. with mental health experts from the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), including Nathaniel Ekman, Executive Director of NAMI Cook County North Suburban, and Josette Day, a licensed clinical social worker with over 20 years of experience in the field.

    “I know a lot of people have questions about their mental health during this time. Many people are dealing with feelings of stress and anxiety resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Fine. “If you’re wondering how to balance working from home or how to help your kids through this difficult time, I hope this Q&A will provide some answers.”

    Blue Room Stream, a subscription-based video service, will be streaming the video live here.

    Individuals facing mental health crises can speak with a counselor by calling the NAMI help line at 833-626-4244 or texting “NAMI” to 741741 to receive support via text message.

  • Senator Fine urges struggling Illinoisans to reach out to new emotional support text line

    fine 022820GLENVIEW – A new, free-of-charge emotional support text line, Call4Calm, is now available for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) announced today.

    “The COVID-19 outbreak has been an overwhelming time for many Illinoisans, and some feel like they are struggling alone,” said Fine. “I hope Call4Calm shows these people they are not alone— there is help.”

    Illinois Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Division launched the hotline, which connects Illinoisans with the mental health services and other support systems they need.

    Individuals who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text “TALK” to 552020 to connect with a counselor. The service is also available in Spanish by texting “HABLAR” to the same number.

    Within 24 hours of sending a text to the hotline, residents will receive a call from a counselor at a local community health center. Call4Calm is free to use, and individuals will remain anonymous.

    “If the COVID-19 outbreak has you feeling anxious or depressed, Call4Calm can connect you with local support,” said Fine. “A caring voice or a listening ear can make all the difference during times of stress.”

    Individuals can also text 552020 with key words such as “unemployment,” “food” or “shelter” for help navigating state assistance services.

    Fine’s office is closed during the Stay at Home Order, but her staff is continuing to work remotely to respond to calls and emails. She encourages those with questions and concerns to reach out by calling 847-998-1717 or visiting

    If you or someone you know is experiencing an urgent mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Text Line counselor. Both resources are available 24/7.

    More information about COVID-19 can be found at

  • Manar encourages mental wellness amid COVID-19 pandemic

    manar 031120BUNKER HILL - State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is emphasizing the importance of mental health wellness and encouraging Illinois residents to use resources and services available for those experiencing heightened levels of stress related to COVID-19.

    “This pandemic has cast a great deal of stress into our lives over a very short period of time,” Manar said. “If you are dealing with heightened levels of anxiety or depression as a result, please know that you are not alone. We are all in this together, and there are people and resources available to help you work through this.”

    The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Division is operating Call4Calm, a free emotional support text line for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19.

    Illinoisans who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0. Once a resident sends a text to the hotline, within 24 hours they will receive a call from a counselor employed by a local community mental health center to provide support. Individuals can also text key words such as “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” and will receive information on pertinent resources and services.

    Additionally, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has published a COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide to answer frequently asked questions regarding the intersection between the novel coronavirus and people affected by mental illness, their caregivers and loved ones. The guide features FAQs on a variety of topics, from managing anxiety and social isolation to accessing health care and medications.

    “Stigma, misinformation, and lack of access to support are just a few factors that can intensify fear and anxiety caused by economic distress,” Manar said. “It’s more important than ever that we look out for friends and neighbors and ensure that we and our loved ones have healthy coping mechanisms for managing stress.”

  • Senator Feigenholtz to host virtual mental health forum on Zoom

    feigenholtz 021920CHICAGO – With Illinois’ Stay at Home Order extended through April 30, State Senator Sara Feigenholtz,  along with State Representatives Ann Williams and Yoni Pizer, will host a virtual forum focused on mental health and wellness during the pandemic.

    “The COVID-19 outbreak and Stay at Home Order are particularly difficult for people with mental health challenges,” Feigenholtz said.  “The goal of this forum is to connect constituents with expert panelists who can provide a toolbox of coping mechanisms, tips and mental health resources.”

    The forum will take place via Zoom on Wednesday, April 15 from 10:30-11:45 a.m. with mental health experts, including:

    • ​Alexa James, LCSW – Executive Director,  NAMI Chicago,
    • ​Carri Hill, Ph.D. – Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Jewish Child and Family Services,
    • ​Hossam Mahmoud, M.D. M.P.H. – Medical Director, Insight + Regroup.

    Following presentations from the panelists, participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.

    “This is a great opportunity to connect with others and learn more about what you can do to stay well during the Stay at Home Order,” Feigenholtz said. “I encourage everyone to make time and participate.”

    A form to RSVP for the forum and receive a Zoom link to participate is available here.

    Those who are unable to participate in the forum are encouraged to take advantage of available mental health resources. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a help line at 833-626-4244 for individuals facing mental health crises. You can also text NAMI to 741741 for support through text messages.

  • The Majority Report 04/13/20 - How state and local organizations are providing assistance


    Martwick reminds residents expiration dates for drivers licenses, vehicle registration extended


    CHICAGO — State Senator Rob Martwick (D-Chicago) wants to remind residents that expiration dates for driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations and document filings will be extended at least 30 days after Driver Services facilities reopen.

    “It’s important to take as many steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 as we can,” Martwick said. “The secretary of state’s office is taking great steps to protect the public and its employees.”

    Read more.






    Senator Fine urges Illinoisans to be mindful of mental health during COVID-19

    Sen. Laura FineGLENVIEW — To help Illinoisans manage their mental health from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) is sharing resources she hopes will offer support to those struggling.

    “We talk a lot about hand washing, social distancing and other measures to protect physical health during this pandemic, but what about mental health?” said Fine. “We’re all experiencing added stress during this time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, I urge you to reach out.”

    Read more.




    Jones announces additional support to essential workers Sen. Emil Jones III

    CHICAGO — State Senator Emil Jones, III (D-Chicago) announced Monday the expansion of support to childcare workers and other essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Essential workers do not have the luxury of staying home during this crisis,” Jones said. “Doctors and nurses are working day in and day out so it’s important these childcare centers are sustained to support these essential employees."

    Read more.




    In case you missed it


    Senator Michael Hastings, Tinley Park: Working remotely: Illinois Senators discuss plans to revitalize state’s economy, stabilize energy operations | WGEM

    Senator Linda Holmes, Aurora: Domestic violence services expanded due to pandemic | Chicago Tribune

    Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Legislature in limbo, lawmakers 'going as fast as we can' to help everybody | The State Journal-Register


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    Lightford minimum wage increase now under effect
  • Joyce highlights mental health resources during Stay at Home Order

    joyce 02192020CM0720rPARK FOREST– Because the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Illinois, Governor Pritzker issued an extension of the Stay at Home Order until the end of April. With many people suffering from stress and anxiety due to COVID-19, financial challenges, and social isolation, State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) wants to share resources with the community on how to manage their mental health while staying safe.

    “Maintaining good mental health is vital during these trying times,” Joyce said. “Please know that you are not alone and there are resources available to help.”

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a Will/Grundy County hotline that also serves Kankakee County at (815)-731-9103 and a textline for support. Text NAMI to 741741 for anyone experiencing a mental health crisis.


    Senator Joyce encourages residents to take simple steps to care for themselves, such as:​

    •     Connect with friends and family online,
    •     Keep regular work hours while at home,
    •     Prepare healthy meals,
    •     Exercise regularly, and
    •     Stay up to date with accurate information.

    While Senator Joyce’s office is closed during the Stay at Home Order, staff can be reached at (708) 756-0882 to assist with any state services. More resources for COVID-19 can be found at

  • Bennett shares tips to manage mental health during Stay at Home Order

    Sen. Scott BennettCHAMPAIGN With the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continuing to rise in Illinois, Governor Pritzker issued an extension of the Stay at Home Order until the end of April. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is sharing resources with community members on how to manage their mental health while at home.

    “Mental health is vital during this challenging time,” Bennett said. “As we face uncertainty about the coronavirus, there are measures we can take to stay calm.”

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Champaign has a hotline at 217-​419-5345 and a textline for support. Text NAMI to 741741 for anyone who may experience a mental health crisis.

  • Villanueva: Keep up on mental health care during Stay at Home order

    villanueva 022620CHICAGO – After Gov. Pritzker issued a statewide Stay at Home order, State Senator Celina Villanueva (D-Chicago) is sharing resources with community members on how to care for their mental health while at home.

    “This is a stressful time for working people who face job insecurity and are struggling to keep up with rent and put food on the table,” Villanueva said. “Even for people who are fortunate enough to work from home, mental health care is more important now than ever.”

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a 24-hour Chicago hotline at 833-626-4244 for anyone who may experience a mental health crisis. You can read NAMI Chicago’s full statement on their services during the Stay at Home order here.

  • Martwick introduces policy to support first responder mental health data

    Sen. Robert MartwickSPRINGFIELD – Illinois is taking steps to facilitate and assist the mental health needs of emergency first responders under legislation sponsored by State Senator Robert Martwick (D-Chicago).

    Martwick introduced Senate Bill 3333 which requires the Department of Human Services to create and maintain an online database and resource page of mental resources geared toward first responders on its website.

    “First responders face many dangers every day,” Martwick said. “It is our responsibility as lawmakers to make sure they get the help the need to perform to the best of their ability and we should be prepared every step of the way.”

  • Link plan addressing mental health services for law enforcement, firefighters signed into law

    Senator LinkSPRINGFIELD – A comprehensive proposal by State Senator Terry Link (D-Indian Creek) aimed at ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues among firefighters and law enforcement officers was signed into law today by Gov. Pritzker.

    “The men and women who dedicate their lives to the protection of their neighbors do so under extremely stressful situations that few others can truly understand,” Link said. “Ensuring there are services available when needed shows our brave first responders that even if they face these tough working conditions, they aren’t alone.”

  • McGuire pushes for stronger mental health safety net for college students

    mcguire 040519College students face major changes as they adjust to life away from home, a situation that can cause or greatly exacerbate underlying mental health issues. State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) is sponsoring legislation to enable the state’s higher education system to help the one in four college students who face mental health difficulties.

    House Bill 2152 would require public colleges and universities to form mental health panels to discuss mental health issues, implement programs that provide support to students struggling with mental health issues, and provide student-to-student support networks. They also must form a strategic partnership with local mental health providers, and that the Illinois Board of Higher Education develop a technical assistance center to develop and standardize mental health policies.

  • Senate President presses Rauner to act on gun violence

    Senate President John J. Cullerton

    As governor, Bruce Rauner slashed funding for mental health programs, leaving thousands of people without needed services and costing people their jobs.

    Now, the governor wants to create a new working group to explore the connection between mental health and public safety and come up with recommendations for him to consider.

    Illinois Senate President John Cullerton points out the governor’s inconsistencies and in a recently published opinion piece calls on the governor to join efforts to do something right now about mental health and gun violence rather than create another government group and schedule more meetings.

    “Last weekend, millions of people across this country joined March For Our Lives rallies. They didn’t demand more government meetings. They demand action, and I think they deserve it,” Cullerton says.

    “Before assembling another batch of bureaucrats to ponder possibilities, the governor should take action on what’s right in front of him.”

    You can read Senate President Cullerton’s opinion piece here:
    Quad-City Times - Guest view: Rauner can prove he's serious about mental health, guns
    State Journal-Register - John Cullerton: Gov. Rauner, don’t silence gun safety movement
    Daily Herald - Cullerton: We need action on existing gun bills, not more work groups

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.”

  • Bush, Cullerton honored for protecting mental health funding

    bush 040417

    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.

    TC awd 040417

    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."

  • 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.”

  • Sentencing will consider mental illness as a mitigating factor


    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.