Mental health and substance use treatment works. It just needs to be accessible at the right time and in the right place. With stable housing, employment opportunities, support in the community and proper treatment, people live full lives, like others living with other medical conditions.
The Kennedy Forum Illinois, together with Thresholds and NAMI Chicago, has issued a set of recommendations to Governor-elect Pritzker and members of the General Assembly to guide key policy priorities in 2019 and beyond. Prioritized over the next three years, these recommendations focus on:
- Prioritizing Prevention and Early Treatment
- Developing Services for People in a Mental Health or Substance Use Crisis
- Ending Insurance Discrimination
As we approach the inauguration of Governor-elect Pritzker and several new legislators, now is the time for an aggressive agenda that puts Illinois at the forefront of mental health and substance use treatment.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. Between 2013 and 2016, opioid overdose deaths in Illinois increased 82% and continue to rise. And Illinois’ suicide rate increased 23% between 1999 and 2016 and is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 and 34. As a result, annual overdose deaths and suicides in Illinois each now outpace homicides.
Many of you – individuals with lived experience, providers, and advocates – have identified these gaps and worked tirelessly towards solutions. We invite you to review the full recommendations (or the executive summary) and join us in continuing to advocate on behalf of these issues to create a nation-leading mental health and substance use treatment system in Illinois.