By: Hugh Brady
On Thursday evening, April 5, 110 fired up NAMIans gathered at the Barrington library for a legislative town hall / forum on mental health issues.
The evening kicked off with Jeanne Ang, Director of Community Heath for Advocate Health Care and Dr. Manorama M. Khare, PhD, Research Professor, University of Illinois College of Medicine presenting the latest Community Health Needs Assessment Research Results for the Barrington Area. Click here to read the full report
Five state legislators, including Senators Pam Althoff (McHenry) and Dan McConchie (Lake Zurich) and Representatives Steve Andersson (Geneva), Michelle Mussman (Schaumburg) and Nick Sauer (Libertyville). Representatives Andersson and Mussman serve on the House Mental Health Committee. And the Senate does not have a Mental Health Committee, but if it did, Senator Althoff would be on it.
More than a dozen members of the audience came to the microphone and told their stories, stories of their difficulties in getting mental health services for themselves or their family members, stories about problems with insurance, problems with Medicaid, inadequate or inappropriate hospitalizations, run ins with law enforcement and more. The legislators got an earful of what’s wrong with Illinois’s mental health system.
The NAM chapters that sponsored the event, NAMI Barrington Area, NAMI Kane County North (Elgin), NAMI Lake County, NAMI McHenry County, NAMI Northwest Suburban and NAMI Schaumburg, also had three “asks.:”
· Support HB 5285 to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for psychiatry. (See accompanying article.)
· Restore NAMI Illinois’s state funding which Governor Rauner eliminated in 2015, and
· Support HB 4950 and its Senate companion SB 2951 which would set up a state pilot program to expand insurance coverage for early diagnosis and treatment for mental illnesses in young people.
The legislators also had some advice for us: Reach out to your legislators and tell your stories. Tell them what needs fixing in Illinois’s mental health system, and keep after them. Don’t let up. In other words, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease; in other words, time to start squeaking.
The event was a great success. It was supposed to end at 8:30 but people stayed around talking to the panel and to each other until the library closed at 9:00.
Thank you to everyone who attended. Same time next year!
VIEW PRESENTATION DECK – CLICK HERE