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On the Legislative Front:

A pair of bills, SB 1633 in the Senate and HB 2572 in the House  and known as the “Children/Young Adult Mental Health Crisis Act” — have been introduced into the Illinois General Assembly.  The companion bills, sponsored by Senator Heather Steans and Representative Sara Feigenholtz, address a whole section of the NAMI Illinois legislative platform:

Improve the Mental Health of Children and Youth

  • Elementary and secondary teachers must receive training such as “Ending the Silence” or “Mental Health First Aid” or take coursework in mental health awareness to better recognize, understand and teach students with mental illnesses or serious emotional disturbance.
  • Screening, assessment and early intervention of mental health conditions for children and youth
    must be an integral part of health care delivery systems.
  • Illinois must cover treatment of first episode psychosis through Medicaid and Medicare and require private insurers to cover it as well.
  • Illinois must provide effective home and community-based services that help children and youth succeed at home, in school and in their communities.
  • Illinois must successfully implement the Custody Relinquishment Prevention Act to end the practice of forcing parents to relinquish custody in exchange for treatment. If the legislation does not eliminate the practice completely, the law must be amended and strengthened.
  • llinois must identify and divert youth with serious mental health conditions from detention to appropriate community treatment.

SB 1633/HB2572 address many of these areas.  A fact sheet on the bills is attached.  And you can read both a summary of the bills and the full texts at

http://ilga.gov/legislation/billstatus.asp?DocNum=2572&GAID=15&GA=101&DocTypeID=HB&LegID=118701&SessionID=108

The bills are the work of the Healthy Minds Healthy Lives Coalition, a broad-based mental health advocacy group which NAMI Illinois and several local NAMI affiliates are a part of.  Each year the HMHL Coalition picks one or two items to focus on, and all the Coalition members work with their local legislators to help pass the legislation.  This year the Coalition’s top priority is  this Children/Young Adult Mental Health Crisis Act

A fact sheet on the bills is attached.  Please share it with your members and when you meet with your area’s state legislators, be sure to make this legislation one of your top priorities.

In addition, NAMI Chicago and a group called the Young Invincibles have been working on HB 2151, the Mental Health and Early Action on Campus Act, sponsored by Representatives Deb Conroy and Chris Welch, which will improve mental health services on Illinois’s college campuses.  A fact sheet on that bill is also attached.  Please share it with your members and local state legislators.  It too needs our support.

If these bills are passed, they will be a big step on the way to improving Illinois’s broken mental health system.

This is a good time to meet with your area’s legislators; the General assembly is not yet in full-time mode and legislators will be spending a lot of time back in their home districts.

If you’re not sure who your area’s state legislators are, you can find them on the Illinois General Assembly website,

http://ilga.gov/

About 3/4 of the way down the right hand column, there’s an item called “Legislator Lookup.”  Just click on that link, and you’ll be taken to a site where you can enter your address and find out who your legislators are.

-Hugh Brady, Legislative Chair
NAMI Illinois

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