Issues: Mental Health
Position in Brief
The League supports a comprehensive and coordinated system of treatment and rehabilitation services for mentally ill adults and children. There should be adequate funding, planning, program standards, and personnel training requirements for both state facilities and community programs.
The League supports a broad array of adequate and accessible community services. Although primary responsibility should rest with the state, funding from local, federal, and non-governmental sources should be encouraged. A system of local boards to levy taxes, administer all funds, and to plan and coordinate services should be required throughout the state. The State should require local governments to provide in their zoning ordinances for residential programs for mentally ill persons.
In November, 2009, then-League President Nancy Marcus, Mental Health Issue Specialist Darlene Bakk, and Criminal Justice Issue Specialist Eileen Subak submitted written testimony for the Governor's Nursing Home Task Force based on our mental health and criminal justice positions. Additional testimonies and information can be found at www2.illinois.gov/nursinghomesafety.
In the mid-1980s the League adopted the mental health position found in Where We Stand.
Since that time, the League has participated with other organizations who share our goal of adequate funding and planning with a broad array of adequate and accessible services for persons with serious mental illnesses.
Local Leagues across Illinois have done their own studies and taken action targeting mental health issues in their own communities. In 2007, the Leagues in Kane County (LWV of the Elgin Area, LWV of the Carpentersville-Dundee Area [now LWV of the Elgin Area], and LWV of Geneva-St. Charles and Batavia [now LWV of Central Kane County]) put together a mental health resource titled "A Profile of Community Services for Adults with Serious Mental Illness and/or Developmental Disabilities."
In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week in recognition of the efforts of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to raise awareness of mental illnesses. Since then, mental health advocates across the country have joined with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about mental illness.
Some of the consequences of making cuts in the Illinois mental health budget are beginning to be brought to the attention of the public by the media. By not adequately funding a community-based mental health continuum of care for people with mental illness in Illinois, we have effectively criminalized mental illness.
On any single day, the Cook County jail houses 2,500-3,000 people with diagnosed mental illness, making it the largest mental health facility in the country. Mental Health Awareness Week is a good time to find out if criminalizing mental illness is a problem in your city.
HB4207 School Bullying Prevention and Public Act 98-0801. Signed by Governor. Amends the School Code. Provides that the definition of bullying includes cyber-bullying and defines cyber-bullying. Each school district and non-public, non-sectarian elementary or secondary school shall create and maintain a policy on bullying, which policy must be filed with the State Board of Education.
HB5598 DCFS- Voluntary Placement and Custody Relinquishment Prevention Act, Public Act 98-0808. Creates the Custody Relinquishment Prevention Act. Provides that in order to intercept and divert children and youth at risk of custody relinquishment to the DCFS, an interagency of youth services be formed. Provides that the interagency agreement shall address certain issues in receiving these services.
Mental health issues will continue to be debated since Robin Williams’ untimely death. This will be the time to remind our legislators of the “Cost of Not Caring” as they review the budget.