Mayoral Candidate for Rockford, IL Address Mental Illness
The new Mayor of Rockford will face unaddressed behavioral health problems that can have a negative effect on Rockford’s economy. Increased costs include emergency and social services, special education, services for homelessness, law enforcement, criminal justice and more.
As mayor of Rockford you will have a unique role in shaping the perception of mental illness. Our next Mayor can choose to promote recovery, reduce the impact of behavioral health problems that occur and ensure that needed treatments and service are available.
On behalf of all our members, health care professionals, advocates and the citizens of Rockford we asked the four mayoral candidates to address mental illness and to specifically address the following questions.
NAMI wishes to thank you for your responses and as promised we are publishing them on our NAMI Northern Illinois facebook page, in Changing Minds, a quarterly newsletter, and here in our online newsletter “NAMI Mail”.
We want to thank all four of you for your sincere efforts to work on making Rockford a great community to live in and raise our families.
NAMI members, we hope you go to the polls feeling informed about your choice for the next mayor of Rockford. This is a unique election with four candidates vying for mayor.
Republican Mayoral Candidate for Rockford, IL
I would first like to thank you and everyone at NAMI for all that out you do for mental illness in our community. I do agree the problem is at a crisis level and something has to be done. Ignoring a problem never makes it get better.
I am pleased to present my responses to your questions:
“Why should NAMI Northern Illinois members vote for You?”
NAMI members should vote for me because I care greatly about Rockford and mental illness here in Rockford and nationally. I will work very hard for Rockford. I am the best candidate to make Rockford a much better and safer place.
What is your position and plan for training law enforcement about mental illness?
I support the training of all law enforcement about mental illness. Law enforcement is on the front line and the first responders when there is a disturbance and mental health crisis. I support the implementation of a CIT – Crisis Intervention Team to help solve this problem. We must lessen the amount of people with mental illness occupying our jail and get them the help they need. It costs more to house an inmate with mental illness in the jail rather than in treatment facility.
Will you back any future endeavors to fund local mental health services?
Yes. I support the implementation of a 708 Board in Winnebago County and feel it will be as successful as it is in other countries where it has been implemented. I was disappointed to see that the 708 board did not get approved by the County Board when it came up. A lot of worry is placed on the stress it will have on property taxes. We can find funding for the 708 board. Winnebago County has 86 units of government and many of those entities do not need to exist. We have a township that cares for 11 miles or road and receives property taxes. There are a lot of cuts and savings that could be made that can fund the 708 board. Most of all it costs more to house a mentally ill person in jail than a mental health facility. The mentally ill will get more help in a mental health facility than a jail cell that is for sure. That fact in itself will save the County money and taxpayer dollars.
What is your position about early identification and prevention on mental illness especially in city funded (head start) programs?
I support Head Start a federally funded program that helps our youth. Early identification and prevention is crucial in solving the mental illness crises in our city. We need to always encourage our youth to make the right decisions instead of bad decisions. Getting our youth the help they need early in life helps tremendously.
Independent Mayoral Candidate for Rockford, IL
ADDRESSING THE MENTAL ILLNESS IMPACT ON ROCKFORD
Q: Position and plan for training law enforcement about mental illness?
A: As a Marine veteran of law enforcement for 9 plus years and Training Officer for the entire department, I believe that it is paramount that we train all of our first responders to include fire fighters and EMT’s to be able to recognize possible mental illness. Being a volunteer for the Civilian Medical Records Network which specializes in the prevention of veteran and active duty suicides, I am very much aware of how not owning any disorder can quickly allow that disorder to own you. Each of these first responder groups should have an avenue to get that person immediate help. I believe this should be part of the processing of prisoners prior to incarceration so that we do not continue to jail those who need mental health services instead of being behind bars.
Q: Will you back any future endeavors to fund mental health services?
A: Yes but I will go further by picking up the tab for mental health services for all residents who lacks the resources and insurance by paying the provider directly.
Q: What is your position about early identification and prevention on mental illness especially in city funded (head start) programs?
A: From my understanding there is already something called the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation or ECMHC which is reported to work great at this. We would incorporate this program in all early childhood facilities and Boston Children’s Hospital had a program called Family Connection Project which may also be of benefit in this regard.
THE REST OF THE STORY
I began this campaign for mayor with a 10 step economic plan for this city but after meeting quite a few people and listening to each of their concerns it has grown from 10 to now a 12 pack. The item now listed and will be campaigned upon to finally fix in this city is The Mental Health Initiative. It will read as offering those who wish to choose mental health counseling free community college education to begin their journey and if they decide to further and become clinical operators in this industry as well as agree to dedicate 2 years upon graduation right here in Rockford, the city will cover half of the cost for those who can afford it and all for those who can’t.
We know that it currently cost around $23,400 a year to incarcerate and we know that many are only there because their mental illness was never discovered or properly diagnosed. We know that $2,000 per year for mental health services and we know that prior to 2006 there were approximately 500,000 hospital beds but after that it dropped to 100,000. We know that now those incarcerated and found to have a mental illness is given some services which we already pay for and we know that mental illness is a wide ranging disorder that affects mood, thinking and behavior. We know that it cannot be cured and we know that the number one reason it appears to be an epidemic is the stigma associated with having a mental illness which leads to being ashamed or embarrassed. We know that the Affordable Care Act requires health exchanges to provide equal mental and physical services but with the threat of it being repelled and replaced by another unknown system those offering services may no longer have to and we know that this must change.