Save Illinois Mental Health Services

A message from Access Living’s Director of Advocacy about the critical need to support mental health services in Illinois

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

First, we have some interesting news for you this today. Our understanding is that the Governor’s budget staffers have reportedly given state agency heads a lump sum budget for their agency with a 10% cut. The state agency heads are reportedly now working to figure out what to cut. Previously, the reports had been to possibly expect a 20% cut, so 10% sounds like less, but is still a cut. There is also the problem that the CURRENT fiscal year budget doesn’t have enough money due to the income tax rollback of 5% to 3.75%.

We’ve got to keep up our efforts! You are doing an amazing job so far this week. When you respond to an action alert by sending a letter to your legislator, your letter is logged by their staff. Your legislators look at the letters they get and how many people write them about specific issues. Thus, EVERY letter matters. Here is my easy task for you today…

While Access Living works to be inclusive of all disabilities, we wanted to spotlight community-based mental health services. People having mental health issues are not people we don’t know; they are all around us. Maybe you yourself are someone who has experienced mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, or schizophrenia. What we do know for sure is that when mental health supports are not in place, people lose control of their lives.

State-funded mental health services are important for Illinois and save millions of dollars in emergency/hospitalization costs. Examples of state-funded services include:

• Permanent supportive housing (empowers people to live in the community with supports)
• Therapy services provided in the community for people of all ages
• A range of community-based programs designed to increase social support networks
• Inpatient services for when people experience a serious mental health crisis
• Funding for the Williams consent decree implementation (to help people leave Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMDs) and live in their own home)

We know that right now, for Fiscal Year 15, the Division of Mental Health reportedly has about a $40 million hole in their budget. Fiscal Year 16, which is what the Governor is working on now, is the budget that would reportedly have a possible 10% cut. Both together are a very bad thing.

Today, please let your legislator know that mental health services are critical to us all. Just go to http://www.capwiz.com/accessliving/issues/alert/?alertid=64119526&type=ST and fill out the easy form. You can edit the letter to personalize it. Do it now! It takes only a few minutes.

Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living